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Harvey Evacuees Boost RV Sales at Houston RV Show and Across Texas

Sonia and John Barrow have lived in their 35-foot trailer since Hurricane Harvey pushed a foot-and-a-half of water under their door. So, the Baytown couple visited the Houston RV Show and bought a new one.

This story by David Hunn originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.

Harvey damaged 150,000 homes in Houston alone, killed more than 80 and caused as much as $180 billion in damage in Texas. But, as it did with car and home sales, it has also provided a bump in RV and trailer sales in the region.

Sales figures weren’t immediately available. But RV dealers said Sunday that they’ve seen a rise in sales from Harvey survivors.

Larry Troutt III, general manager of Topper’s Camping Center in Waller, Texas, said Harvey boosted sales by 50 or 60 units, as much as 10 percent on the year. The company offered free delivery for Harvey victims; Troutt said he dropped off several in the driveways of flooded homes.

Troutt, president of the Houston chapter of the RV Dealers of Texas, said the bigger RV dealers have seen even larger upticks.

And it’s not over as insurance checks go out to potential RV buyers.

Rene Gonzalez, a salesman at Topper’s, sold a Forest River Sandpiper, a trailer that retails for as much as $75,000, to Harvey survivors on Saturday.

Joe O’Masters, road manager for Ron Hoover RV & Marine, ran into about two dozen Harvey victims at the show, most staying with friends or living in hotels but dreaming of trailers.

Show organizers said they expected to see Harvey traffic over the five-day show at the NRG Center, which ended Sunday.

Chris Veum and Heidi LeFrois have been living out of a 25-foot RV in their driveway. Their Meyerland home got about two inches in the Memorial Day floods two years ago and 2-and-a-half feet during Harvey. This time, they’re going to rebuild higher.

The Barrows, meanwhile, can’t wait for delivery of their new fifth wheel. They lost everything during Harvey, and their old trailer was feeling cramped. So, a brand-new $68,900 top-of-the line VanLeigh Vilano, with wood trim, electronic leveling and plenty of storage, felt like a “pretty good deal,” they said.

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