When the remnants of Hurricane Floyd rolled over Danbury, CT, it dropped enough rain to wipe out the stock of Greentree Motors, a Toyota and Lincoln store. About 200 vehicles were trapped in a flooded lot and destroyed by the deluge. Danbury received some 13 inches of rain that day.
It was the most serious single setback any dealer suffered from the monster storm that wreaked havoc in Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia and some northeast states in September.
There were surprisingly few major losses to rival the one suffered by the Danbury dealer. Most dealers in the affected areas experienced a slow down in sales because customers could not get to the stores. In addition, employees could not reach their dealerships because of closed roads and downed power lines.
Spokespersons for Daimler Chrysler, Ford and General Motors say no more than a few dozen cars were actually destroyed by Hurricane Floyd.
It was also believed that despite some short-term sales losses, the long-term effect of the hurricane would be positive for car companies and dealers. That's because cars that sustained damage would have to be replaced by new or used vehicles in the fourth quarter.
Toyota made a special effort to restock Greentree Motors, says James Press, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. About 60 of the reported 200 lost cars were Toyotas.
No special programs were required by other carmakers to restock other dealers.
Flooding in some dealerships brought in mud and debris that had to be cleaned up before business could resume. Lucky dealers, including one in Danbury, were able to get employees to move cars to lots that stayed dry. The exact number of cars that were totaled by the storm could not be pinned down because carmakers did not attempt to gather the information.
However, inventory losses were minor compared to manufacturing losses. A number of GM and DaimlerChrysler plants were shut down for full or partial days because a components supplier stopped production during the hurricane.