Cox Automotive is holding steady with its estimates of vehicle damage from Hurricane Florence as flooding reaches near record levels in some places in North Carolina.
The analyst team led by Cox Automotive chief economist Jonathan Smoke initially estimated last week that 20,000 to 40,000 vehicles could be lost due to flooding in the Carolinas. The latest update showed that estimate has not changed as the area tries to recover from this hurricane that the National Weather Service said dumped an estimated 8 trillion gallons of water.
All of that water is eventually working its way back to the Atlantic Ocean through waterways such as the Cape Fear River, which officials expect to crest this week in Fayetteville, N.C., at 61.6 feet, about 7 feet below the all-time high set in 1945.
Of course, during the process, vehicles in the path of flooding could be damaged if they haven’t been already. The scenes have triggered reminders of what happened last year after Hurricane Harvey deluged Houston with the most rainfall ever recorded during a single storm in U.S. history.
“We’ve been asked many times how this event differs from the devastating floods in Houston last year. From a business point of view, one difference is the current volume of used-car inventory,” Smoke said in Cox Automotive’s latest commentary.
“We’ve seen wholesale supplies tighten this year, and retail inventory has been moving more rapidly as a result. These are clear signs that demand continues to outpace supply,” he continued. “Going into last weekend, we had started to see more stabilization after values rose for the last three months, reaching an all-time record in August.
“Even though the replacement need will be smaller in this case, we could see values increase temporarily especially in the region due to limited supply,” Smoke went on to say.
“Hurricane Florence and its aftermath, however, will not have the notable impact on the larger U.S. vehicle market that we saw with Harvey, where an estimated 600,000 vehicles were damaged or destroyed, impacting both supply and demand,” he added.
The National Automobile Dealers Association reiterated that its philanthropic division is ready to provide help to member store employees impacted by Florence. Applications for assistance and a path to make donations can be found here.
“There are so many heroes to thank. The rescuers who are risking their lives to pull people from flood waters. The law enforcement and firefighters who are working around the clock. The nurses and doctors, the pilots, the utility workers. From the people of North Carolina, I say thank you,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news release.