Hurricane Laura devastation surfaces as dust settles

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Joe Medulla said he hopes that Sabine River Ford in Orange, Texas, can reopen in some capacity within 24 to 48 hours.

Nearly a week after Hurricane Laura made landfall Aug. 27 as a powerful Category 4 storm, Sabine River Ford has power, albeit from a generator, but no Internet service, said Medulla, general sales manager.

Customers have begun to call about nails in vehicle tires and needing an oil change so they can leave town, he said, and the dealership wants to help.

Across the state line in Louisiana, the road to reopening is longer for Volkswagen of Lake Charles, where Medulla also is general sales manager. The city was hit by strong winds during the hurricane. Nearly every vehicle on the dealership’s lot was damaged, he said, from blown-out windows to scratched hoods where debris looks to have hit. Medulla said he has heard electricity could be out for at least a month, if not longer, and he hasn’t heard when water service will be restored.

“I would love to say that we could be open within 30 days, but it’s really going to be dependent on what the recovery effort citywide looks like,” he said.

Dealers in Laura’s path across southwestern Louisiana and parts of eastern Texas have started to assess the damage from the hurricane. Laura left more than 300,000 homes and businesses without power and water, including Louisiana dealerships. Electricity restoration could take several weeks, according to Entergy Louisiana.

Phillip Tarver, a Toyota dealer in Lake Charles, told Automotive News on Sunday that his dealership is being powered by generators and water is being supplied from an outside company.

Toyota also provided a generator for the dealership, and Tarver said he expects the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help with the cleanup.

Fifty miles east of Lake Charles, Don Shetler Buick-Chevrolet in Crowley, La., is experiencing a partial power outage. A spokeswoman said that the dealership reopened with only minor building damage and one damaged truck that was struck by fallen shingles.

Will Green, president of the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association, said he continues to collect information from his members.

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Saurabh Shukla

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