Tens of Thousands of Models Likely Flood-Damaged by Recent Storms
UPDATED: Dealer Jim Smail was meeting with his fellow Pennsylvania Automotive Association board members at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort 70 miles outside Pittsburgh on Thursday when several directors had to leave immediately.
As these dealers were finding out, the wrath of the recent storms — which some project may have flood-damaged tens of thousands of vehicles — is not over.
Pennsylvania’s capital of Harrisburg and the Northeastern parts of the state began flooding, Smail said, leading PAA board members to scurry away from the meeting and across the state to make sure their dealerships and homes were safe.
Not to mention, PAA’s headquarters are in Harrisburg and were being threatened Thursday afternoon, said Smail, who is the president of Smail Auto Group in Greensburg, Pa. He is also the chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association in addition to serving on the board of PAA.
“It’s just been a real mess,” Smail told Auto Remarketing, saying that as of Thursday afternoon, he had not yet heard of any damage done.
At Harrisburg Auto Auction, the flooding began on the auction's sale day. Harrisburg AA still had the sale, but the crowd was only half the normal size and the sale rate was just 50 percent, said auction owner Lynn Weaver.
He said his facility and vehicles managed to escape any damage, but many dealers in town were not so fortunate.
Dealerships in the area had cars literally float away from their lots, Weaver told Auto Remarketing on Friday. He said the flooding was the fourth-worst in Harrisburg's history.
"Unbelievable," Weaver remarked. "Nothing like I've ever seen."
A report late Thursday afternoon indicated that Pennsylvania and New York had to evacuate a combined 120,000 people because of the flooding. Three have already died in Pennsylvannia due to the flooding, the governor confirmed.
In fact, Gov. Tom Corbett declared the emergency level in Pennsylvania to be the most severe since Sept. 11, 2011 when terrorists attacked the U.S.
"Almost every town along the Susquehanna River has experienced flooding, including Towanda, Danville, Bloomsburg, Wilkes-Barre and Sunbury,'' Corbett said Thursday afternoon.
"In Hershey, the Swatara Creek has risen four times beyond its flood level,'' Corbett said. "Some flood gauges cannot give us reliable data because they are now so far underwater," he added. "We face a public health emergency because sewage treatment plants are underwater and no longer working. Flood water is toxic and polluted. If you don't have to be in it, keep out.''
Hundreds of roads across the state have been closed because of flooding, mudslides and rockslides, as well as stranding motorists and residents. Specific information about major state road closures is available by calling 511 or by www.511pa.com.
The flood waters were not expected to crest until Saturday morning in Harrisburg, Weaver said, meaning it will likely be the middle of next week or the following week before exact vehicle damage is known.
"We have not seen the end of this yet," Weaver noted.
Reports indicate that the scope of the river's flooding extends all the way into Maryland, as well, in addition to Pennsylvania and New York.