Following the recent nor’easter storm that pummeled the already Sandy-ravaged areas of the northeastern region, few industries have been hit harder than transportation.
Just 10 days after Sandy’s departure, her devastation continues to leave several parts of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York reeling from low-lying or coastal flooding–including water damage to automobiles, many of which are still sitting at local car dealerships.
“Once they’re [cars] damaged by salt water, there’s not much you can do. They will either be scrapped or sold for parts,” said Lawrence Dixon, Sr., automotive analyst at the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Since Sandy’s landfall just 10 days ago, the NADA estimates 250,000 automobiles will be damaged by the storm. That number was generated from research done by dealers, car industry contacts and insurance companies who work directly with NADA.
Damaged cars will be considered “total losses” by insurers once claims have been filed and processed, which could last well into the new year. Assessing the dollar amount of damage to these cars following Sandy continues to be as difficult as the recovery process itself.
“We’re looking at a loss well into the millions depending on what the number comes in of total loss in vehicles–we may even be looking at upwards of a billion dollars,” said Dixon.
Although power has been restored to many areas affected by Sandy, many dealers are still cleaning up with the help of generators.
‘Some of these dealers are working with generators even today to get back and running and start contributing to their communities again,” said Dixon.
Despite the hardships they’re facing, Dixon says franchise dealers have made the well-being of their employees their number one priority because many of them are displaced or continue to be without power or heat.
But these dealers cannot do it alone.
Over 100,000 applications for loans were processed through the US Small Business Administration after Hurricane Sandy hit.
According to SBA, there are two different types of loans: one for physical damage another for economic injury loan for any small business.
“If the community can’t get up and running then the small businesses can’t get up and running,” said Emily Cain of the U.S. Small Business Association.
In the days post-Sandy, Toyota USA donated $1 million to the American Red Cross and other non-profit organizations supporting relief efforts and victims of Sandy.
NADA also contributed to $1 million to the Emergency Relief Fund of the National Automobile Dealer’s Charitable Foundation. This donation is in addition to the $250,000 the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association made to the NADA Foundation.
School bus shortage
According to the New York Association of Pupil Transportation, over 2 million students board a yellow school bus to school each day in New York.
“It’s tough work on a good day,” said Peter Mannella, executive director of New York Association of Pupil Transportation.
With public transit influx, many students are finding it difficult to return to school. Also, with two storms affecting the New Jersey and New York areas, families are displaced, resorting to shelters and, in some case, homelessness. Many of these families include school-age children.
“But with all this going on…I heard from one school director, ‘I don’t know where some of the kids are living. How do I get them to school? Some are staying with grandma.’ It’s a question of going and finding them and that’s a huge task,” said Mannella. “It’s not sitting in the classroom; it’s literally getting those kids to school.”
School districts hardest hit by Sandy include Long Beach and Free Port both located in Nassau County as well as Bay Shore and Ocean Side.
The NYAPT is a member-funded, nonprofit professional association that serves the Pre-K through 12 grade public school district. In this situation, the NYAPT networks with school districts to determine what they need.
“We are looking around to see if there are buses in small quantities that people can loan,” said Mannella. “It’s affecting their ability to get kids to school because they don’t have school buses.”
According to NYAPT, schools with the largest bus shortages are Long Island and New York City. In some areas, the buses that have been lost or are no longer usable are in the several hundreds. School bus garages have sustained major flooding too.
The cost of replacing a school bus can range from $60,000 to upwards of $120,000 depending on the size and equipment on board.
But it’s not just a financial issue, says Mannella. Amid fuel and bus shortages, schools are trying to work together to make sure students have transportation to schools.
Many New York schools were closed Thursday and Friday following the area’s first snow fall of the season on Wednesday from the recent nor’easter storm.