Wed December 14, 2022
Hurricane Ian struck Florida in late September. One of its enduring images was the collapsed Sanibel Causeway, which links Sanibel Island to Punta Rassa near Fort Myers on the mainland.
Just a few broken sections of roadway remained, breaking the surface of San Carlos Bay. Without the 3-mi. causeway, the island and its residents were cut off from access to relief supplies.
Just hours after Ian made landfall, ALL Crane Rental of Florida, a member of the ALL Family of Companies, was trucking cranes from Tampa to aid in relief efforts.
Ian made landfall Sept. 28. ALL Crane received the call Sept. 30 and had the cranes delivered later that same day.
"After we received the call on the 30th, it took most of the day to put a plan in place," said Dennis Davis, sales representative of ALL Crane Rental of Florida.
"Precisely where the crane would be going, where we would be staging the equipment, where we'd be setting up the barge system. Given the debris and storm damage, it took some time to determine an acceptable location."
The convoy of trucks and trailers carrying the cranes received a Highway Patrol escort. Normally, it's a three-hour drive from Tampa to Fort Myers, but delivery took twice as long due to delays related to hurricane damage, even with the escort.
"We arrived in Fort Myers that night and immediately began setting up the cranes," said Davis.
First, a 120-ton Liebherr LTM 1100-4.2 all-terrain crane helped to assemble a temporary barge system. In the absence of the causeway, the barge would be used to carry rescue vehicles, other emergency equipment, and supplies to the island. Next, a 265-ton Liebherr LTM 1220-5.2 was erected to help load the barge.
ALL Crane also supplied a Terex RT 555, a 55-ton rough terrain crane, in the early days to provide assistance with moving material. The barge was then carried by tugboat to Sanibel Island. (A separate drive-off dock had been erected on the island's shore to receive and dispatch the deliveries.)
Construction of the temporary barge was completed Oct. 1, and relief work began immediately following. The ALL team remained at the site for two weeks.
But this obviously is a story about more than delivering cranes to a hurricane-ravaged part of the state. It's about the resilience of that state and its people.
"One of our operators arrived at the site and told me, ‘You can see all the pictures in the world, but you can't even fathom the devastation until you see it with your own eyes,'" said Cody Johnson, general manager of ALL Crane Rental of Florida.
"A resident pointed to an 18-foot-tall building and said he saw a storm surge go right over it," said Davis. "I saw a 400,000-pound shrimp boat that had been thrown on top of an SUV. It's hard to imagine the type of force required to send something that heavy that far inland. What these residents have lost is unfathomable."
"Our guys went willingly into the unknown," said Johnson. "It says a lot about their character."
ALL Crane dispatched three operators to the cleanup zone — one to run the crane, the other two to act as riggers. The team worked 18-hour shifts for two weeks straight with no off days. An encampment of mobile trailers was set up near the work site — bunkhouses, portable restrooms and a food trailer. Visiting tradesman slept on cots among strangers, now united by a common mission.
For more information, visit www.allcrane.com.