Four days since Hurricane Harvey first made landfall in southeastern Texas, the severity of the situation in the Houston area and surrounding communities is still unknown, the weather conditions have not improved and more flooding is on the way.
“This is the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen. I’m wet, it’s still raining and things are starting to float,” said Cary Wilson, owner of Ron Carter Autoland in Alvin, Texas, about 25 miles south of Houston. “This is being called a once in an 800-year flood.”
Wilson, a 55-year resident of the Houston area, employs 240 people at Chevrolet-Buick-GMC, Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram and Ford dealerships in one location, which have been closed since Friday. Wilson serves on NADA’s board of directors representing dealers in Southern Texas.
“Many of my employees have lost their homes completely and have been displaced to shelters, and I have quite a few employees living on the second story of their homes,” added Wilson, whose garage at home is submerged under seven feet of water and expects flood water to soon enter his home.
“The roads are impassable in Houston and the surrounding areas. For many areas, there is a mandatory evacuation,” he said. “The National Guard, American Red Cross and first responders are moving people out. Most of the shelters are full and they are transporting people to Austin, San Antonio and Dallas.”
To assist dealership employees who have been impacted by personal property damage caused by the hurricane and flooding, the NADA Foundation has mobilized its Emergency Relief Fund.
“Donating to the NADA Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund is an effective way to provide financial assistance quickly to dealership families affected by Hurricane Harvey,” said Annette Sykora, chairman of the NADA Foundation. “Local dealerships nationwide are like a big extended family. When one of us hurts, we always come together to help.”
Bill Wolters, president of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, which represents 1,309 new-car and -truck dealerships in the state, said it’s difficult to travel and communicate with dealerships in the affected areas and the risk of flood damage is growing.
“Typically, when you have a natural disaster, it only lasts a day or two. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen one that has endured this long. The hurricane reached landfall on Friday night and here we are on Tuesday, and it’s just as problematic as it was when it started because the storm cell has not moved,” added Wolters. “With the rain coming back and continuing, we don’t know if dealerships will avoid flooding because there is nowhere for the water to go.”
Wilson estimates 60 percent of his vehicle inventory at the dealership has sustained water damage from rising flood waters and rain on Tuesday.
Dealership employees affected by the flooding can apply for financial assistance. (Lost wages or commissions are not eligible for reimbursement from the fund.)
The NADA Foundation is also calling on dealers and dealer association groups to donate online to its Emergency Relief Fund, which is dedicated exclusively to providing financial assistance to dealership employees.
Personal or corporate checks can be made payable to Emergency Relief Fund, c/o NADA Foundation, 8400 Westpark Drive, Tysons, VA 22102. For more information, call 703.821.7102. (Donations to the NADA Foundation are generally tax-deductible; contributors should consult their tax advisors for details.)