When a massive F5 tornado demolished Greensburg, Kan., on May 4, the town was left with huge piles of debris to clear away before rebuilding could begin. That’s when John Deere and Murphy Tractor — a Deere construction equipment dealer with locations in nearby Wichita, Ulysses, Great Bend, Topeka and Dodge City, Kan. — stepped up to the plate with the donation of a 624J loader equipped with a grapple bucket and an 850J waste handler dozer.
“The devastation in Greensburg is just immense, and this equipment was sorely needed,” said Tom Udland, president, Murphy Tractor in Wichita. “We’re glad to be in a position to help our neighbors as they clean up and begin to rebuild their community.”
The 624J would pick up splintered wood from houses and trees for transfer to the landfill, where it could be burned to make room for other debris. The 850J waste handler was hard at work in the specially built landfill, moving large loads into the burning pile. This equipment is a part of the fleet that has removed more than 5,000 loads of debris from the area, according to the May 16 newscast on local television station KAKE-TV Channel 10.
The 624J is the most productive machine at work in Greensburg, according to Martin Miller, public affairs manager for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), who has 100 team members from KDOT currently working in the area. One reason for the machine’s efficiency is the unique attachment Murphy Tractor installed before sending it.
“With the grapple attachment, this machine actually can pick up nearly a truckload of material in one scoop. It’s much more efficient than anything else on the street out there,” Miller said. “The other loaders push debris along with the bucket, so you end up with dirt and other things in the load — but the 624J with the grapple attachment reaches down on a pile and picks up huge loads of debris in one shot.”
When the call came saying the equipment was desperately needed, the staff of Murphy Tractor wasted no time. The 850J was a part of the John Deere demonstration fleet in Omaha, Neb. Mark Savage, transportation technician at Murphy Tractor in Omaha, loaded the machine onto a truck Monday night — by Tuesday afternoon, it was hard at work in Greensburg. The 624J originally was stationed at Coal Valley near the John Deere headquarters in Moline, Ill. To get the machine to Greensburg as quickly as possible, Wes Rezac of Rezac Trucking was called in.
“Within 12 hours, Rezac brought it to our service department in Kansas City to install the grapple bucket while the truck waited, and within 24 hours, they had it to Greensburg,” said Bill Buckles, vice president of sales, Murphy Tractor.
Murphy’s equipment donation was a wonderful surprise, according to Miller. “Everyone was talking about how generous it was. These are pretty expensive pieces of equipment to loan out on a moment’s notice,” he said. “We’ve really appreciated them too — these two machines are the best in the whole operation. They are perfect for what we needed them to do. I sat out there and took pictures of the 624J working, and it could almost fill a truck with one scoop, whereas the other machines would be pushing debris all over. Eventually they’d get a bucket load and they’d dump a little bit in the truck, but with the 624J, it was a matter of a minute or two and you’d have a truckload ready to go.”
In addition to the 850J and 624J, Murphy Tractor provided a 655C crawler loader to neighboring Stafford County, which also suffered damage from the storm.
Murphy Tractor & Equipment Co. Inc., one of John Deere’s largest North American construction equipment dealer organizations, was founded in 1982. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., the organization has 16 locations throughout the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Each location has a full complement of equipment and parts inventories, service technicians and field service capabilities.
For more information, visit www.johndeere.com.