Wisconsin logger may be the 'fastest claw' in Irma's cleanup

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Zach Ashbeck drove his rig all the way from Green Bay to Tampa Bay.

"Glad I had a GPS. I had no idea where I was going," he told FOX 13 News.

But when he got here, he knew exactly what he was doing. He operates a grappler-loader -- and he's good at it.

"My hands operate the crane part and then my feet are the rotation that spins me left and right," he explained.

Ashbeck may be the fastest claw operator in the clean-up and that's good for people who are neck-deep in debris.

"It's good to see them in the neighborhood," offered St. Pete resident Johnny Harris.

People back in Wisconsin may not recognize Ashbeck's Kenworth T-800 truck. Currently it's outfitted with large boxes on the bed to handle branches and debris.  

Usually it hauls large logs of aspen, maple, and oak. Practice is what made Ashbeck good.

"My dad has always had log trucks. I guess I just picked it up from him and try to stay smooth and fast," he said.

As he moves through the area, removing debris, he has a request: "If the homeowners can keep their debris out in the open and away from trees and power lines, it makes our day easier.”

He's paid by the cubic yard of debris removal by FEMA.

"More loads mean more money and that's never a bad thing," he said.


Ashbeck is 24 and recently married his wife, Chelsie, who has no doubt heard a lot from her husband about Florida in the summer after a hurricane.

"It's definitely hotter than Wisconsin. This humidity is going to kill a kid from Wisconsin," he laughed.

But a kid from Wisconsin is good to have when he runs the fastest claw in the clean-up.