According to a report by NPR, all the cars smashed by Superstorm Sandy are presenting a big problem: how do you get rid of them?
The abandoned autos, rendered inoperable by Sandy’s massive flooding, have already caused the auto insurance industry an astonishing $800 million dollars. Those with comprehensive insurance are cut a check by the insurance companies and they then “disappear” your expensive paperweight. The question is, what happens to your formerly sweet ride?
The number of junked cars is staggering, as close to a quarter million vehicles were damaged or destroyed by the storm. Micah Hardy, a tow truck driver charged with removing the cars from Coney Island told NPR, “In this area [there are]about 900 cars that have to be towed out that have been totaled out by insurance companies, so we’re picking them up and taking them to a staging area.”
Once towed away, the cars will be stripped for valuable parts, shredded and melted down.
In Sheepshead Bay, we’ve noticed a bunch of abandoned cars in the neighborhood, many of them stripped bare since Superstorm Sandy short circuited their electrical systems. Brian Sullivan, editor of Auto Insurance Report told NPR that there is a lot of money in junked cars.
“Even a damaged car … is a pretty big asset,” Sullivan said. “If an insurance company’s going to get even $2,500 back from it, that’s a lot of money.”
Still, despite the money insurance companies and street bandits are recouping from picking clean your flood damaged autos, there are logistical problems stemming from dealing with the sheer volume of all those cars.
Jeanene O’Brien of Insurance Auto Auctions told NPR that Superstorm Sandy is presenting an even greater challenge than the one caused by Hurricane Katrina.
“It hit in the most densely populated area of the United States. Two things happened then: No. 1, there’s lots and lots of cars; and No. 2, there’s not lots and lots of land available,” she said.
To deal with the lack of space, tow companies are improvising, using parking lots of places like Belmont Park racetrack to temporarily stack and store the totaled cars until they are auctioned off in the coming weeks.
Hardy, in Coney Island, told NPR that he expects to keep towing cars 12 hours a day, seven days a week, until Christmas.