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Jonathan Smoke, opinion contributor

Hurricane Harvey: The worst disaster for automobiles ever

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Article Highlights

  1. Once damages are finally tallied, Hurricane Harvey will likely prove to be among the worst, most-costly natural disasters to hit our United States.
  2. he vehicle ownership rate in the Houston area is 94.4 percent, which is higher than the U.S. rate of 91 percent.
  3. We are estimating 300,000 to 500,000 vehicles were severely damaged or destroyed, which translates to between $2.7 billion and $4.9 billion in lost vehicle value, based on vehicle age in the market.

Once damages are finally tallied, Hurricane Harvey will likely prove to be among the worst, most-costly natural disasters to hit our United States. In addition to the heartbreaking loss of life, damages have been estimated by Moody’s Analytics to be in the range of $77 to $97 billion. That’s bigger than Sandy and getting close to Katrina — clearly a major tragedy.

Because of the nature of the damage — mainly flooding — and the landscape of Houston — mostly flat — the damage to the vehicles is particularly noteworthy. My team at Cox Automotive has taken a careful look at the situation in and around Houston and found the damage to be shocking. In fact, in a measure of damaged or destroyed automobiles, Hurricane Harvey could well be the worst ever in the United States.

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