RENO, Nev. (AP) — A team of heavy-machine operators drew a big crowd of camera-toting spectators as they plucked dangerous debris from raging floodwaters last weekend in Nevada.
They then became internet sensations as online commenters dubbed the men #CraneGuy, Bridge Ninjas and heroes of downtown Reno.
On Sunday, emergency workers voluntarily evacuated about 1,300 people from 400 homes in a Reno neighborhood as the Truckee River overflowed and drainage ditches backed up.
Three-man teams set up an excavator, loader and dump truck on multiple bridges and snatched logs and other heavy debris as it barreled down the river.
Machine operator Jim Duncan tells the Reno Gazette-Journal it was fun but also nerve-wracking to spend hours in the rain, grabbing debris before it hit the bridge.
Officials say the men served as a first line of defense and protected aging bridge spans from extra strain.