Mt Cuba Center
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Mt. Cuba conserves and stewards more than 1,000 acres including meadows, forests, streams and riparian corridors.

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Mt Cuba Center
Back to News Updates – August 8, 2020


Mt. Cuba Center Cleans Up Tornado Damage

A rainbow over Mt. Cuba Center.
A rainbow appears after a devastating storm at Mt. Cuba Center.

Last week’s tropical storm and Friday’s tornado brought strong, 90+ mph winds and heavy rain to our region where soil was already saturated. After the storm passed, Mt. Cuba’s team emerged to find the grounds littered with debris.

Bill Trescott, arboriculture manager, estimates that 30 or more trees are down in Mt. Cuba’s gardens and an additional 200+ are down in our 1,000 acres of Natural Lands. One tree also caused damage to a garage. The historic Main House basement was flooded, as were other buildings on the property. Additionally, several trees were down on the Main Drive and Barley Mill Rd.

According to the National Weather Service, a tornado touched down right outside of Mt. Cuba around 5:40 pm on August 7 and continued in an Easterly direction close to the Ashland nature center of the Delaware Nature Society or just east of the intersection of Brackenville Road and Barley Mill Road where some tree damage occurred. Wind damage was estimated to be 105 mph, equivalent to an ef1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

Our arborists and garden experts are busy cleaning up since Friday’s storm so we can safely reopen to the public ASAP. Mt. Cuba plans to reopen this Saturday, August 15.

Meanwhile, we’re implementing a land management strategy that accounts for a future where intense storms are more common.

“We manage the landscape as an entire connected system,” said Nathan Shampine, natural lands manager. “Although there was a large amount of damage to our trees and woodlands, we understand that these natural disturbances happen occasionally, and that it will create openings for new growth and allow for the successional process to start again.”

One of Mt. Cuba’s goals is to enhance the ecological value of the landscape. This includes a plan for strategic reforestation in some areas that will provide greater habitat for plants and wildlife as well as carbon sequestration.

Throughout Mt. Cuba’s gardens and natural lands, new plants are chosen for their suitability in our local environment, their ecological value, and their compatibility with a warming climate in our region.

“It is thought that with climate change, we will experience more frequent and intense weather events,” said Shampine.“ When we manage or restore our landscapes, our goal is resiliency, adaptability, and function, with diverse native plant species as the foundation.”

Wind damage to the Mt. Cuba Center registration tent.
Wind damage to the Mt. Cuba tent.
Trees down and debris in the gardens.
Trees down and debris in the garden.
Debris and downed trees over the roadway.
Debris and downed trees over the roadway.