Veteran-led disaster relief organization Team Rubicon deployed its heavy equipment operators to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Feb. 2-10 to assist in demolishing damaged houses and clearing debris caused by an EF3 tornado that hit the city on Jan. 21.
CASE Construction Equipment dealer JWH Equipment in Jackson, Mississippi, supplied an excavator and compact track loader for Team Rubicon’s Operation Iron Bird, which demolished 17 houses and cleared an additional 13 properties of tornado debris at no charge.
“Our goal while we’re out here as volunteers is to help as many people as we can, to get them to the point where they can rebuild their properties,” says Victor Civitillo, a certified heavy equipment instructor and operator with Team Rubicon who managed the heavy equipment deployment. “Having the CASE heavy equipment here means we can accomplish in two hours what would normally take a full day for a crew working with hand tools.
“So together we can help families get back on their feet faster, and then the whole community and the local economy recover faster.”
Operation Iron Bird is the most extensive heavy equipment deployment conducted by Team Rubicon in a disaster zone. The heavy equipment competency within the organization was created with training support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and equipment and training support through an ongoing partnership between CASE Construction Equipment and its dealers.
“Helping real people and communities rebuild with nothing but determination and a sense of service was what drew us to Team Rubicon and the work they do – this was a perfect execution of what this partnership was intended to be,” says Scott Harris, vice president, North America, for CASE Construction Equipment. “JWH Equipment stepped up and saw an opportunity to help people in their own community, and we’re proud of the work all partners accomplished in Mississippi.”
Team Rubicon and CASE continue to work on additional heavy equipment operator training sessions throughout the U.S. For more on Team Rubicon, and to volunteer or donate, visit the organization’s website here.