Ice Storm Causes Damage To 'Irreplaceable' Survivor Tree

Tuesday, October 27th 2020, 2:31 pm
By: News 9


This historic October ice storm has damaged an irreplaceable landmark in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City - the Survivor Tree.

A large branch has come down on the tree, an iconic symbol in the aftermath of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. News 9's Ashley Holden talked with the director of the Oklahoma National Memorial & Museum about the importance of the tree and its current condition.

"Well, we have an emergency plan for all the trees on this site, and we activated it yesterday," said Kari Watkins. "The guys have been out here since dawn, were out here late last night beating the trees."

Freezing rain turning to ice has weighed down trees and power lines across Oklahoma. During Ashley's interview with Watkins, you could hear branches breaking in the background.

Because of the situation with trees at the Memorial, it has been closed temporarily in the interest of guest safety, Watkins said. The museum announced it would also be closed Wednesday.

"The Loblollies are just full of ice and heavy. We'll keep our focus on the (Survivor Tree). We beat the Loblollies last night, but those are 60-feet tall or so. Our attention really is to this tree, giving the guys a quick break and warm up, and they'll come back out here and work on it again," she said.

The Loblollies to which Watkins was referring are pine trees. The Survivor Tree is an American elm.

But until the limbs can be cleared, Watkins asks that visitors stay away from the site.

In the case of the Survivor Tree branch, Watkins points out that it had been identified as an at-risk branch before the storm.

Click the play button atop the story to watch the full interview.