In any alleyway between Holly and Fatherland streets, where I pedaled Tuesday and ended up helping clear the area around a house with minor damage, between two that lost their roofs and would likely eventually be demolished.

Scenes like the above haven’t been hard to find this week around here, but what you don’t see in this picture is what was behind me when I took it — a small army of around 20 people shepherding all manner of debris into piles for later removal from this the area of direct hit by the tornado that ran through Nashville (then on through Donelson and Hermitage and Mt. Juliet to Lebanon and beyond) perhaps closest to my house (about three quarters of a mile directly South).

Reason I bring it up — to give you a little bit more of a window on what I’ve been up to when time allows this most unique and frankly a bit overwhelming of weeks, yet not without it’s share of workhorse old trucks and their owner-operators, as it were. An old friend — we actually bought our house from her here 10 years ago — lives by the 10th fairway of the public Nashville Metro Park District-operated Shelby Golf Course, through which we walked to get out to her place Wednesday afternoon. After a good four hours of moving debris, mostly wood from several big downed trees all around and partially on top of her house (a porch was demolished in total, though the rest was mostly spared), to the street, all the guys there working small chainsaws had gotten to the point where size and skill had most definitely begun to matter in a big way.

Over the hill up the road by the 10th hole’s tee box, between piles of wood and debris on either side, rolled Greebrier, Tenn.-based Kohler Sawmill owner Ben Kohler’s 1987 International straight truck, outfitted with a loader on the rear of the flatbed.

Kohler said he was on his way toward another tree in the area he was planning to purchase from the owner of the property. He couldn’t make the turn in the road at the top of my friend’s driveway without moving some of the debris lining the road out of the way, so he proceeded to start doing that with the loader; then he noticed the quandary the guys on hand were in with the remaining large trunks.

He pulled the truck down the driveway, as shown above, and pulled his own more sizable chainsaw from the storage box under the flatbed — what followed reminds me one of owner-op Mike Landis’ observations in Over the Road’s first episode. Landis likened a pro highway captain at work on the road to a virtuoso guitarist plying his trade onstage, “in his zone.”

Guys had been slowly struggling with a trunk laid parallel with the driveway for at least an hour. When Kohler got out of his truck, it was all of about 15 minutes, tops, before he had the whole thing on the flatbed to cart out of the yard elsewhere.

Along for the ride that day with Kohler in the truck, powered by a DT467 in-line six diesel — you’ll see if you look closely — is his dog, Scout. The gold course, minus a former huge stand of trees that were in the tornado’s path, you see here in the background.

Here’s to those with the know-how, and the equipment, to do the work right. Was a pleasure watching you work, Ben.

UPDATE: Power is back on at the downtown TA as of Wednesday morning, though stay watchful if you’re in the area for ongoing road closures. 

And: Western Express, on the west side of Nashville a relatively short distance due east of the John C. Thune airport out there (both of which took direct hits from the tornado), updated its customers and staff about damage sustained there on Wednesday. As CEO Paul Wieck notes in the video that follows, fortunately no one was injured in the dramatic damage at the location: 





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