The workers are employed by a number of tree removal companies, including Langston Trees of Chiefland, FL; Reliable Tree Service from Jefferson, SC; Palm Tree Service from Jena, FL; W. R. Robson Logging out of Cross City, FL; J & K Trucking Company out of Vale, NC; and Moore's Tree Service out of Glenwood, AK.
The tree crews, who are dorming at the firehouse on Edgemere Road, work 12 hours a day, seven days a week to guarantee that local homeowners can get their homes and yards back into shape as soon as possible.
Kerry Willis of J & K Trucking is one of the father figures to the young men, who is also sleeping at the firehouse. His grown son, Jason, is one of the coordinators during disasters such as this, scheduling trucks and workers to service areas in need of relief.
The group has 40 to 50 trucks up here, including 20 bucket trucks.
"We have met the nicest people here," Willis said.
Rob Langston, owner of Langston Trees, agreed. "Folks have been gracious. We've pulled 20 trees off houses already and off smashed Audis. We're the 'Firehouse Tree Gang!'"
Another worker is 21-year-old "Wild" Bill West from Moore's in Arkansas, who traveled more than 1,300 miles to help. The company sends him out during tree removal work after hurricanes and ice storms.
"It's an adventure," West said. "I have buddies who do the storms with me, and we do any storm disasters. My friends, Brian and Thomas, are with another Arkansas group this time. We come up here to make money and send it back to our families. I drove up here in a bucket truck. I'm a carpenter by trade and a motor fanatic."
Garrett Eaton from Gainesville, Florida traveled more than 1,000 miles to lend a hand. "The Garden City firemen are awesome and they take good care of us," he said. "I prefer to work outside and I've never had a job inside before."
A total of 16 men are temporarily living at the western firehouse on Stewart Avenue and Tanners Pond Road, with conditions fine for a night or two, but not for the six weeks or more they were told they would have to stay. They might be living there until Christmas or later.
The Village of Garden City's Fire Department is providing room for them, but not any funding for meals or other items. The men are respectfully asking for donations to help them and their fellow workers get through the cold season.
They could use the following items:
- Personal (new): towels, washcloths, soap, toiletries, laundry soap, Underarmor, thick socks and work gloves (Carhart)
- Other items to make their life easier in the dorm area (good to new): Small student-size refrigerator, radios, and small dressers to hold clothing and snacks