Bound by two coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico with the Mississippi River in the center, lies Plaquemines Parish (pop. 23,042) – the furthest lowland peninsula south of the City of New Orleans and the most vulnerable parish in coastal Louisiana.
In 2005, the parish realized how defenseless it really was when heavy rains accompanied by 120 mph hurricane-force winds flooded in. The levees that surrounded all sides of Plaquemines Parish could not hold up to the strong storm surge and broke. More than 38 feet of water poured through the levee, flooding the entire area during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Lane Greco, 53, owner of Greco Construction, was one of the first residents on-site after Katrina hit. Greco had worked for the parish under his father as a heavy equipment operator, building levees and drainage canals. After working for the parish, he decided to join the military and served in the U.S. Army for eight years. While serving, he started Greco Construction – a construction, demolition and site preparation business.
“We were Katrina,” Greco says. “I’ll give you an idea: You know that little toe that sticks off the state of Louisiana at the very bottom? That’s home.
“Katrina hit us before New Orleans. We were the ones that took the brunt of it and probably saved New Orleans from even more catastrophic damage because we’re a coastal parish. It was hard to recognize anything.”
Restoring the parish
Following Katrina, city officials developed a long-term strategy to protect and restore the Plaquemines Parish coast. The first step was constructing $1.5 billion of new levees, authorized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. By 2018, more than 60 miles of levees were installed and another 20 miles were raised from an average of 3 feet to 9 feet, helping to strengthen a weak link in the parish’s storm-surge protection system.
Along the coast, natural grasses and fabric matting were added to the top of the levees. The design, called “levee armoring,” aims to protect the area from erosion caused by tropical storm surges if the levee is overtopped. Man-made wetland construction continues to add resiliency to the area and to better protect the shorelines.
Additional offshore barrier islands will further protect the shoreline of Plaquemines Parish. The barrier islands are part of the coast’s natural defenses against tropical storm surges. Most of the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico has barrier islands, but the parish lies on a peninsula made by sediments of the Mississippi River which lacks a row of protective barrier islands.
Turning disaster into discovery
Restoring the parish continues to be a constant work in progress, requiring assistance from devoted residents like Greco. Recently, he was tasked with clearing debris away from the existing levees that surround Plaquemines Parish.
“Every year the Mississippi River rises and dumps logs and other debris on the levee,” Greco says. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers require that the debris be moved 30 feet away from the levee, so the ground can stay dry.”
To efficiently complete this project, Greco needed the right equipment. “My last crawler excavator let me down big-time, so I went straight to my dealer, Mr. Sid Duhon with Duhon Machinery,” he says.
At the time, Duhon Machinery was not yet a Doosan dealer, but Greco wanted to continue doing business with Duhon, so he offered him a proposition. “He had told me that Doosan had been trying to get him to be their dealer for quite some time,” Greco says. “I told him if you become the dealer, I’ll be your first customer. He wasn’t even a dealer yet, and we made the deal. That’s how much I believed in Mr. Sid Duhon. Without that man standing behind it, I would have never had the opportunity.”
Sure enough, Duhon Machinery became a Doosan dealer and sold Greco his first DX300LC-5 excavator.
“When I started using the machine, I was floored because of how quiet and strong the machine was,” he says. “I could sit in the cab of the machine, running at full throttle, and you’d swear I’m in my living room.”
Greco also appreciated the excavator’s strength when removing debris from the levee system. “It’s a midsized machine that can do the work of a larger machine,” he says.
“In fact, I run the machine in Economy mode and have found that I was able to cut down the time spent on land clearing jobs because the machine is so fast and strong.”
In addition to disaster recovery projects, Greco also completes site demolition projects with the Doosan® DX300LC-5, equipped with a bucket and a clamp. He recently used the machine to tear down a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building in four hours. “I needed a workhorse, but this machine is a work rhino,” Greco says.
Since Greco works year-round, he also likes the comfortable cab that allows him to stay fresh all day. “I’m working long hours, so I have to stay comfortable,” he says.
“In the DX300LC-5, I have an air ride, heated seat. If I’m working in 90 degrees or 20 degrees, I’m staying comfortable. My wife says it’s even nicer than her vehicle.”
Spot-on dealer support
When Greco needs service and maintenance assistance, Duhon Machinery is always there. “With my busy schedule, I don’t have time to do my own maintenance,” he says. “My dealer comes to my jobsite when my machine needs scheduled maintenance. It frees me up and gives me more time to do other things.”
Dealer support is key to Greco and his line of business. In fact, he views it as a friendship, more than a business partnership. “Mr. Sid and the dealership are spot on,” Greco says. “If they say they will be there, they will be. If I have a question, I can call them. I think being in the Doosan line, there’s going to be a lot more things I can do. I’ve helped Mr. Sid sell a couple of machines just on my word.”
Reliable equipment and keeping true to his word has proven to be very valuable for Greco over the last 20 years. It’s something Greco plans to continue to live by for years to come.
“My father raised me to be respectful, hard-working and determined,” he says. “I learned through him to love helping others in our community. I chose to build my life here and want to continue helping out my community any way I can. It’s not just a job; it’s a passion for me. I love the work I do.”