Trees Damaged In Moore, El Reno Transformed Into Art

Wednesday, May 14th 2014, 6:39 pm
By: News 9

As the anniversaries approach for the May 2013 tornadoes, Oklahomans are literally transforming debris from the storms into symbols of hope and healing. They are using chainsaws and wood collected after the storms to do it.

"White oak, black walnut, catalpa and cedar are kind of my top favorites because they don't rot," said Tom Zimmer, a chainsaw artist.

Almost a year after the May 31 tornado, Tom Zimmer hauled in two logs of white oak from El Reno. The big tree was torn down in that storm and cleanup efforts just got to it. Zimmer says he got a lot of lumber after the storms.

"We just more or less waited for people to call us and said hey we've got this wood pile. We've got this big tree. Do you want it?"

Many of the victims just wanted the debris gone so they could rebuild or move on. Zimmer says he did not want it to go to waste, so he stepped in and hauled it back to his shop.

Others wanted to preserve what was left of their snapped trees, like the Millers who live in Southwest Oklahoma City.

"In this situation it was magnified because of the storm and the degree of which so many people suffered," said chainsaw artist, Nathan Pratt.

Pratt jumped at the opportunity to help his friends. He changed a snapped tree into a symbol of healing for the Millers. He meticulously carved up what was left of a tree that came down outside the Miller house. Another tree actually crashed right through their home.

"This is just a very, very small example of something bad that happened, um, but something good can result from it, there's usually a bigger plan taking place even though we might not see it," said Pratt.

Zimmer said he had a similar feeling when carving pieces of wood recovered after the tornadoes into a beautiful piece of art.

"Something from tragedy, we made something nice out of it," said Zimmer. "[We're] immortalizing it a little bit in the wood."