Over in Rock Creek Woods, residents could hardly suppress their anger at Pepco for ripping out limbs and vegetation in the center of the cherry trees and turning them into shapes resembling slingshots.
On Tuesday night, Marcis dashed off an e-mail to county officials and journalists with the subject line: TREE MUTILATION.
Adam Fogel, chief of staff to Montgomery County Council member Nancy Navarro (D-Midcounty), promised to look into the matter.
“Navarro was very troubled by finding out this information because she’s aware of the history of the neighborhood and those trees,” Fogel said. “She understands there was quite a fight to get those trees there in the first place. We see this situation in Rock Creek Woods as unique. These were trees that were planted for a special purpose by a particular community.”
Between 1959 and 1960, as Rock Creek Woods was being built by architect Charles Goodman, neighbors asked the county to plant Yoshinos alongside their three curving roads. The cherry trees form a canopy and provide shade. For Washingtonians in the know, Rock Creek Woods is a less crowded place to see the same cherry trees that become so popular each spring at the Tidal Basin and in the Kenwood neighborhood near Bethesda.
Katharine Waldmann, one of Rock Creek Woods’s first residents, said she wavers between disappointment and sympathy for Pepco.
“It did seem like they were having to cut more than in previous years, but from Pepco’s point of view, they feel they’re being so blamed for the outages and that they haven’t gotten around to trimming,” said Waldmann, vice president of the Rock Creek Woods Civic Association. “The problem is that we don’t think the cherry trees are causing the outages. It’s other trees.”
Over in Kenwood, longtime resident Barbara Libbey said that Pepco crews chopped off some parts of her neighborhood’s cherry trees earlier this year before the derecho. “Whatever they did didn’t seem to do any good, because we lost power for four and a half days,” Libbey said.
On Wednesday, Rock Creek Woods homeowners complained that, contrary to Pepco’s claims, the utility did not abide by state regulations that require advance warning of tree trimming.
Marcis and her neighbors greeted one another Wednesday with mournful looks.
“I feel pain in my chest,” said Val Campbell, a massage therapist who stopped her car in the middle of the road to talk with Marcis. “I try to be very accepting. But I feel hate. I normally do not feel hate. But I hate Pepco.”
“My head hurts,” Marcis said.
“I had a cherry tree that died about 10 years ago. I cut out a part, and had a ceremony for it,” Campbell said. “I burnt it as part of an offering. I was thinking of getting others in the community to do it, and have a healing ceremony.”
“Yes,” Marcis said, smiling. “We need healing.”