Uncertainty often accompanies a storm. But with Hurricane Florence, which was downgraded from a category 4 to a category 3, there’s a looming sense of fear that makes your hair stand up. Like RV Dealers Association President Phil Ingrassia said, though, the lives at stake come first. After that, you “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
The RVDA president reported that the organization has reached out to a half dozen dealers that were in “various stages of preparedness.” Other dealerships, he said, had put their “storm hours” on their websites or made public announcements of reduced hours or dealership closure, depending on their proximity, across social media platforms.
Ingrassia has experienced hurricanes through RVDA members since the mid-2000s: Katrina, Harvey, Irma.
“It seems like every couple years there’s something going on,” said Ingrassia. “It’s heartbreaking to see some of the stuff that’s happened over the years. The wind is one thing, but then you get the flooding. If these units are in any kind of floodwater, it’s devastating.”
Any dealers in the Carolinas and Virginia that’ve yet to prepare, the RVDA said there are a number of precautionary steps worth taking.
For one, employees are a top priority. Make sure their evacuation has begun and they can reach a safe area. Afterward, if there’s time, move any inventory to higher ground if in a low-ground area. Campers Inn in Myrtle Beach, for example, moved units to a higher elevation.
Next, “batten down the hatches,” said Ingrassia. Bill Plemmons RV World in North Carolina made sure to close all slide-outs so the wind doesn’t catch them. Taking a page from Lazydays RV during Hurricane Irma last year, it helps to move units away from any trees to reduce damage.
Lastly, sand bags will help reduce flooding on the sales floor, and removing any electronics may preserve records. On that note, be sure to grab all paperwork regarding property insurance.
“The Carolina folks kind of know where to move stuff,” he said. “And I know that a lot of that has been going on. … The dealers are very resilient, but there is a lot of lost productivity.
“Not only do you have stress at work,” he continued. “But you could have stress at home as well if it’s damaged. It’s a lot of stress, and I just hate to see people go through that.”
It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. He remembers after Hurricane Katrina that a lot of dealerships returned to business. But dealers, he said, need to ensure a strong relationship with their insurance company and that they’re fully aware of what is covered.
“You’ll need that insurance to get whole,” he said.
RVDA will reach out to dealers on their cellphones and to the North Carolina Auto Dealers Association in Hurricane Florence’s aftermath.
RV PRO will update its readers with more information next week.