A Bottom Line Equipment Link-Belt 210 with shear attachment works to demolish a commercial building damaged by Hurricane Laura in Sulphur, La.
Contractors, equipment dealers and the heavy equipment they provide are infrastructure's first responders when natural disasters hit.
When Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 27 as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 150 mph., its destructive path reached the eastern Gulf Coast and made its way as far north as Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. Eventually, Laura's winds abated and became a tropical storm … but not before leaving extensive damage.
The Lake Charles area was hit hard and heavy damage reached all segments of the community and surrounding areas.
As with all hurricanes, cleanup and debris removal work quickly followed. Clearing roadways is essential so that power companies can assess and repair the damage and residents can return to their homes. Hurricane Laura left nearly one million residents without power.
Bottom Line Equipment, a rental equipment business that has rental locations all along the Louisiana and Texas gulf coasts, is one of the companies playing a crucial role in the recovery effort. It has nearly 200 pieces of heavy equipment out to contractors working on cleanup and power recovery, according to Kurt Degueyter, president of company.
Operating from a base at its Sulphur, La., location, Bottom Line has drawn equipment and attachments from all of its seven locations in Louisiana and Texas to fill the needs of contractors.
Here is where Bottom Line has mobilized equipment for contractors who are working hard to bring normalcy back to the Lake Charles area.
Ten debris management sites (DMS) have been established in the region, where fallen trees and other cleanup debris is hauled for grinding into usable mulch.
The teams of Crowder Gulf and Gulf Services are managing two such sites and are being supported by Bottom Line excavators, loaders, dozers, side dumps and water trucks.
The sites were up and running within a week of the storm, according to Lyman Ramsay, president of Gulf Services.
"The idea is to get the material off the street as quickly as possible, so that work can begin on infrastructure," he said.
The sites typically are about 50 acres in size. A constant line of haul trucks and trailers bring debris from the surrounding community.
Excavators with grapple attachments unload the debris and feed the grinders. In the case of Gulf Services, each of its sites are utilizing three CBI Magnum Force 5800BT grinders.
Loaders and dozers move the ground product into huge mountains of mulch.
Ramsay said attachments are key to choosing the company as his company's equipment partner.
"For us, its Bottom Line's knowledge of attachments," Ramsay said. "They have the knowledge, and then they have the attachments."
Bottom Line boasts an inventory of more than 400 specialty attachments, according to Degueyter.
Energy has been disrupted to more than 300 plants, oil refineries and other industrial sites in the region. Most will be closed until the end of October to allow for cleanup and assessment of serious damage.
As was widely reported, the hurricane caused a massive fire at a chlorine plant operated by BioLab Inc. in Westlake, La., when water from the storm surge ignited chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
Josh Williams of Haz Mat Special Services said his company was the first on the scene. Haz Mat Special Services received the contract for both remediation of the fire and demolition of the affected structures. Williams has a crew of 60 men on site.
For equipment solutions, the company looked to Bottom Line and rented a LBX 350 excavator with a ShearCore Fortress FS55R attachment and a Cat 360 fitted with a grapple.
Williams didn't mince words when asked why he rents from Bottom Line.
"I don't like to rent crap," he said. "Bottom Line gives us good equipment and we don't have problems with it. They always have the specialized equipment that our projects call for."
There was extensive damage at the sprawling Port of Lake Charles, including the collapse of a massive structure that housed boats and other marine equipment for the Lake Charles County sheriff's department.
Hiram Durousseau, president of HD Trucking, which has the demo contract for the building, said getting rid of projectiles was the company's immediate focus. His crew utilized an excavator/shear package from Bottom Line to cut the building's metal frame into transportable pieces. The shear attachment was a LaBounty MSD7.
Tens of thousands of Entergy power customers remained out of service a month after the storm, and some experts are predicting that it will be several more months before the grid is fully restored.
Entergy enlisted the help of LineTec Services and Pike Electric to assess the damage and begin the process of restoring power.
Huge staging areas dot the region where equipment and manpower for both companies are organized and dispatched. LineTec and Pike work on the major lines while smaller contractors are tasked with rebuilding the lines in residential areas.
One such contractor, Diamond D Industries, of Sulphur, La., employed an LBX 210 excavator and shear package from Bottom Line to cut wooden poles into manageable sections for disposal.
Traffic across Southwest Louisiana was disrupted as roads and highways were washed out or compromised.
Contractors of all sizes have been enlisted to rebuild or reinforce roadways, some of which are in remote parts of the marshy coastline between Lake Charles and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) was awarded a $5 million grant from the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to help rebuild state roadways and bridges that were damaged during, but that amount represents a small portion of what the state estimates actual costs to be.
"Southwest and central Louisiana has seen tremendous damage from Hurricane Laura," said DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson. "Thousands of miles of state roadways were impacted by this disastrous storm and these funds will assist in expediting the reconstruction of any roads and bridges that were damaged.
The I-10 widening project across the region was temporarily interrupted, according to Degueyter. Work has since resumed.
Hurricane Laura's impact on the Gulf Coast, particularly in and around Lake Charles, was substantial. But this area of the country is accustomed to surmounting the damage cause by these powerful storms — and local contractors and equipment dealers, like Bottom Line Equipment, are integral components to these successful recovery efforts. While Laura won't be the last hurricane to ravage the Gulf Coast, these infrastructure heroes remain poised to answer the call when the next big one swirls in. CEG
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