On the morning of Oct. 1, Chris Breedlove, owner of High Rock Land and Hardscapes Landscaping Company, received a dreaded phone call from Elon University. The university informed him that high winds from Hurricane Ian uprooted trees on campus — the same trees his company had planted only months before.

He quickly jumped in his car to come to campus and replant them, with his son Weston tagging along to fix the landscaping damage.

Although most of Chris and his son’s work consisted of replanting trees, he said it’s hard to see how quickly the wind was able to lift the trees out of the ground.

“It’s somewhat frustrating because you see a lot of hard work going to things and then just in the blink of an eye, things are damaged or destroyed,” Chris said.

High Rock Land and Hardscapes has worked with Elon University on many campus projects, most recently, laying sod and landscaping for summer campus construction projects such as the Innovation Quad, Alumni Center and the pathway connecting Danieley Center to Colonnades neighborhood.

Facilities Management gardener Frank Clapp said Elon began working with Breedlove after he purchased the previous landscape contracting company Elon used. Clapp said Breedlove and his company normally come in and do larger installations of landscaping, sod and trees.

“Breedlove and his company come in and help with a lot of projects on campus,” Clapp said. “They do the installation, and then we tend to it when they’re done.” 

Clapp said Chris’ efforts on larger projects make his job easier. Although it was hard to predict the impact Hurricane Ian would have on North Carolina, Chris said he did preparation to prevent his work on local construction projects from being destroyed.

“We put some bales of straw out and just tried to make sure that when the water was running in certain areas that it wouldn’t be damaging the ground,” Chris said.

But beyond Elon’s campus and other sites, Chris said his first priority was the safety of his family. A resident of Brown Summit, 15 minutes northwest of Elon, Chris lives in a heavily wooded area and said he was concerned about falling trees when the storm hit Friday evening. 

“I’m going to be honest, there for a while, I wasn’t necessarily worried about projects,” Chris said. “We live in the middle of the woods, and I was more concerned about a tree falling on our house than anything at that time. My family and myself took shelter in the basement and just decided to ride out the storm until we felt safe to come back upstairs.”

Chris said he was grateful there was no major damage to his house or any of his company’s equipment, though he lost power for over 72 hours and had to rely on a backup generator.

“It was scary there for a little bit, but I made sure everybody was protected and safe in the basement and fired our generator up,” Chris said. “We’ve just been living off of that ever since.”