What to Do After a Tornado

Your Post-Tornado Checklist 

After a tornado strikes, keep a closer watch for pest activity.

After a tornado, you’ll need to assess the damage done to your woods and take action to restore them.

  • Stay safe. Any damaged trees that fell on power lines, access roads, or otherwise created a hazard should be reported right away.
  • Get help. Tornado damage is sometimes difficult to spot, and missing it can expose your woods to the risk of disease or insect infestation. Ask a professional forester to help you assess the damage to your woods.
  • Survey your woods—carefully. With extreme caution (because piled-up debris can be dangerously unstable), go out among your trees and take stock of the damage. Note where the damage occurred and its extent. Document the damage with photographs and a map, if possible.
  • Salvage ASAP. Broken, twisted, or uprooted trees should be salvaged promptly. Some of these trees—particularly log-sized ones (12 inches in diameter or more)—may find interested buyers; very badly damaged trees may be removed at a loss. Your forester can help you plan a safe, economically sound salvage. When salvaging:
  •         Avoid delays or interruptions—insect pests, like bark beetles, are more likely to show up when salvage isn’t prompt.
  •         Salvage pines first because they are more susceptible to pest outbreaks. Hardwoods can follow.
  •         Be careful not to damage remaining, intact trees during removal.
  • Protect the survivors. During your forest’s recovery period, limit grazing and guard against fire in the affected areas. Tornado damage leaves your woods vulnerable to wildfire, disease, insects and invasive species, even after broken trees and debris have been removed.
  • Watch it. Keep an eye out for pest activity for up to two years following the tornado’s strike. Look for trees that are turning yellow or show pitch tubes on their bark or boring dust around their bases. These could be signs of disease or pest activity.

If you live in an area with frequent tornado activity and want to protect your woods, all it takes is a little planning. You may not be able to prevent a tornado, but you can cultivate a more resilient, tornado-resistant forest.

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