The Dirt - The Honor of Duty

posted on Friday, March 6, 2020 in The Dirt

When Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 7, 2018, it was only the fourth Category 5 hurricane to hit the contiguous United States — and the first to strike the Florida Panhandle. In Mexico Beach, Florida, entire neighborhoods were swept away, leaving only bare foundation slabs. Violent, 160-mph winds caused widespread destruction throughout Panama City, damaging or destroying homes, apartments, restaurants, gas stations, hotels, retail stores, and office buildings. Tyndall Air Force Base was devastated, with every structure sustaining wind damage and some completely destroyed.*p

Firefighters are trained to rush toward emergencies instead of away from them. So it’s no surprise that when firefighter Josh Shumate, owner of TurfMasters in Madison, Alabama, was asked to help the people of Panama City, he answered the call. “Our pastor, Spencer Beach of Building Church, had a home there and knew families affected by the disaster. I told him that I had a John Deere 323D CTL (Compact Track Loader) and that my friend Zach Tate and I could bring the machine down there.”

Shumate needed a grapple to help clear out debris, so he approached his local John Deere dealer, TriGreen Equipment in Huntsville, Alabama. “My dealer contact, Doug Swaim, told me to swing by and pick one up. When I showed up, I was looking around for a used grapple, and he said, ‘No, just grab a new one. That’s the least we can do for those people down there. And let us know anything else we can do to help.’ That’s just the way they are. TriGreen always steps up.”