When a flood hits a city, it’s all hands on deck. Last weekend, as the Truckee River in Reno overflowed, emergency crews and contractors rushed out to evacuate homes, built barriers, and sandbag roads.

This time, one particular set of helpers stood out: heavy-machine operators, sent to snatch huge pieces of debris out of the water with even huger pieces of equipment.

As the Reno Gazette-Journal reports, these operators are the first line of defense in a flood. Without them, flotsam can pile up quickly, straining bridges and causing the water to rise further. Passers-by quickly renamed them the “bridge ninjas,” and shot footage of them nimbly yanking everything from logs to picnic benches out of the rushing water. They’d load up a nearby dump truck, and then cart it all away. (More videos of their smooth moves are available in this tweet roundup, also from RGJ.)

“It’s like bobbing for apples,” one operator, Chad Olson, told the outlet. Another, Jim Duncan, compared it to a video game, though with slightly higher stakes—if the excavator’s claw hits a pillar, it could tear the bridge apart.

No bridges were harmed, though. After about 20 hours of work, the ninjas plucked their last log, with no trouble. This display of skill may have something to do with how much they enjoy the job: “I would do it all day long,” says Duncan. “It’s fun.”

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