The Gardens of the American Rose Center in Shreveport will reopen later this month. The center lost 37 trees and sustained roof damage to all its buildings when an EF-1 tornado struck on the afternoon of May 16.
The headquarters of the American Rose Society is humming these days with the sound of chainsaws from tree removal contractors taking down the mostly pine and mature oak trees. Executive director Jeff Ware said tornado warnings are common, but this one was different. The staff huddled in their administrative building away from windows.
“There really wasn’t time to be frightened. We just did what needed to be done for safety. Then, we peeked outside and it was a different world," Ware said, during a recent interview at his office that was without power for a week. "The ground was covered in white hail. The temperature changed so quickly because of the a hail on the ground that it produced a fog. The whole area in the garden was covered in a dense fog. It looked like we were on another planet.”
This time of year, you’d normally smell the roses when you drive into the center even with windows up, but that’s no longer the case. Ware said the severe storm took a toll on the rose bushes with winds that clocked about 100 miles per hour and dime-sized hail.
“Many of the roses were just stripped of leaves and blooms, and basically they’re stocks now. We expect most of them to come back, but we’re watching about 1,000 rose [bushes] that may eventually have to be replaced," Ware said.
The loss of trees will bring more light into the American Rose Center, which will benefit the roses. The American Rose Center has set aside a special account to help pay for the damage called "restoration."