Cars sit in floodwater in Lumberton, N.C. Photo credit: REUTERS
Don’t let the numbers fool you.
The damage caused by Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas is still significant, despite looking minimal compared with previous hurricanes that hit more densely populated areas of the United States.
As of Friday afternoon, at least 10 dealerships had significant vehicle and facility damage from flooding, and several hundred employees are expected to request relief from the National Automobile Dealers Association’s disaster relief fund, said Robert Glaser, president of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association.
North Carolina bore the brunt of the Category 1 hurricane, which as of Friday has been blamed for 42 deaths, multiple news outlets reported. Volvo Cars and Mercedes-Benz, along with suppliers such as Bosch and Denso, lost several days of production at plants in the Carolinas because of the storm and resulting floods.
While cleanup continues, analysts are estimating a smaller impact on automotive retail when compared with other recent storms, such as Hurricane Harvey. Black Book, a vehicle value tracking firm, estimates the coastal communities affected by the storm to have a population of about 325,000, about 5 percent of the more than 6 million people who live in the Houston metro area, which was inundated after Harvey blew through just over a year ago.
While Hurricane Harvey is estimated to have damaged or destroyed up to 600,000 vehicles, Hurricane Florence’s current estimate is 20,000 to 40,000 cars and trucks, said Cox Automotive.
State Farm Insurance told Automotive News on Friday it has recorded an initial 2,400 claims for damaged and lost vehicles from the storm. That’s about 5 percent of the 40,700 State Farm auto claims reported in September 2017 for Hurricane Harvey.