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Allen Parish Christmas tree farm spends weeks standing up thousands of trees knocked over by Laura

Owners have spent 2,500 man-hours staking up trees one-by-one
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 3:52 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2020 at 4:11 PM CDT
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GRANT, La. (KALB) - The sounds leading up to this holiday season sound a lot different this year at Grant Christmas Tree Farm in Allen Parish, as the owners are working day-after-day with hammers in-hand. That’s because Hurricane Laura’s wrath knocked over just about every one of Gray and Mollie Anderson’s 10,000 Leland cypress trees.

“Every tree you see in this frame was flat, laying on the ground, from little to big,” says Mollie Anderson. “We weren’t looking at one year of damage. We were looking at six years of damage,” adds Gray Anderson.

Hurricane Laura's winds in Allen Parish were well over 100 mph, pushing over thousands of trees.
Hurricane Laura's winds in Allen Parish were well over 100 mph, pushing over thousands of trees.(Grant Christmas Tree Farm)

Since Hurricane Laura, the Andersons have spent 2,500 man-hours staking up every single tree, one-by-one.

“You’re doing good if you accomplish 100 in a day,” says Mollie.

They estimate they’ll lose about 10 percent of the trees in the ground, worse than any other storm before, including Rita.

“We realized it was going to be much stronger and it was too late,” says Mollie.

Since the storm hit, the root systems of some trees have failed. Others have dried out due to a lack of water. The farm was without power for about three weeks, meaning they couldn’t run their irrigation system except by generator.

“It’s a little bit different than a crop of beans or corn where you can replant it next year.”

Gray Anderson

Because most Christmas trees take six years before they’re sellable - with up to 15 years of time invested in the really big ones - the Andersons say this damage will affect them long after the holiday lights are dimmed this year.

“We’ll be fighting this battle on them until they’re sold next year, good Lord willing we don’t have another Laura.”

Most of the trees have been staked upright over the last few weeks, but the root systems of...
Most of the trees have been staked upright over the last few weeks, but the root systems of some trees have since failed.(KALB)

Despite the setbacks the farm says they’re opening soon - in time to welcome back families for the holiday season just like they’ve always done.

“There’s a lot of family tradition at this farm, and we want to be there for that,” adds Gray Anderson.

Grant Christmas Tree Farm plans to open for the season by the third week of October. Check their Facebook page for updates.

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