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FFS helps Liberty County recover one year after Hurricane Michael

Posted at 3:59 AM, Oct 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-14 03:59:06-04

LIBERTY COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — This week marked one year since Hurricane Michael.

It was the strongest hurricane to hit the panhandle in more than 25 years.

In a lot of counties, including Liberty -- the recovery process is still ongoing.

But the Florida Forest Service says they want to help make things a bit easier for people.

Dexter Barber tells WTXL he's lived in Liberty County his entire life.

Hurricane Michael brought damage to both his front and back yard.

It's uprooted his life -- physically and emotionally.

"I lost 17 acres of my pines," said Dexter Barber.

Dexter Barber is one of hundreds of people across the panhandle who still feels Michael's wrath.

"I had a lot of fruit trees, some of them blew over and they won't ever come back," said Barber.

Florida Forest Service says the Cat Five storm surge took out millions of trees.

In part, adding to the more than 25 billion dollars in damage to the state.

That's why Saturday FFS stopped by Bristol to help people ease back into recovery.

The group gave out a ready-to-plant tree to anyone who stopped by.

Will Liner/Urban Forestry Program Manager for Florida Forest Service

"Trees just don't grow over night. It takes us years to re-capture what was lost. What we lost last year will take us decades to fully replace... so its important to start now," said Will Liner, Urban Forestry Program Manager for Florida Forest Service.

Florida Forest Service and partners have given out more than 11,000 trees to people this year.

For Barber that means a lot.

"This will give us a chance for the community to look better quicker," said Barber.

But more than just looks and shade, it's a part of nature Barber says brings warmth to his heart.

"Trees are very important for electrical bills and just comfort," said Barber.

The Florida Forest Service tells WTXL the community loved it.

They gave out about 500 trees Saturday.

They'll stop by other parts of the state to give away trees later this year.