Urbana 2019 tornado cleanup 1

Urbana Park District workers Trina VanderArk, left, and Brad Johnson remove fallen branches Tuesday, May 28, 2019, at Larson Park after a storm two days earlier that produced an F-1 tornado.

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URBANA — The city of Urbana is looking to citizens to donate money to replace trees lost in a late spring tornado.

A release Wednesday from the city said the F-1 tornado that hit southwest Urbana May 26 cost the city more than $131,000 to clean up. Another $22,000 will be needed to replace the 64 trees lost that Sunday morning.

Vince Gustafson, a deputy director in public works, praised the efforts of city employees who quickly responded to the storm that severely impacted two residential areas. It’s estimated they put in about 1,543 hours on clean-up.

“Now we are faced with replacing the damaged and destroyed trees in order to maintain our urban forest,” said Mayor Diane Marlin, whose own neighborhood was affected by downed trees, damaged fences and roofs.

“We had made excellent progress addressing the tree-planting backlog following losses due to the emerald ash borer,” she said. “The tornado has set us back. Many community members benefitted from the city’s efforts to remove debris — even the substantial amount of debris that came from private property. Now we are asking the community to help.”

The city estimates the cost to replace a tree at $360 — $110 for the tree and another $250 for the labor to plant it. That brings the total cost of replacing the 61 trees to $21,960.

Another 89 trees were considered seriously damaged, the city said.

Community members, business owners or organizations who wish to donate to the tree-planting effort can do so through the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois’ website at cfeci.org.

Click on “Donate to CFECI” and be sure to designate “City of Urbana Trees” when making your donation.


Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).