Article > Opinion

It's Been A Real Disaster



By Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber

 We are three quarters of the way through 2011 and look at what is going on around us. No, we are not speaking about our industry. The automotive industry is actually doing quite well; it is growing, new cars are selling, repairs are being made, parts are being sold and the future looks fine.

We are talking about this year’s natural disasters that have been and are currently going on throughout our nation. Mother Nature. In years’ past, a jobber might get flooded, the manufacturers would come in and assist with inventory damage, the WDs would work out payments for the monies due them or even discount or write off some of the balance due.

There is virtually nowhere in our country where you can say that you have escaped this year’s natural disasters.

Sure there are small pockets or areas that have been spared, but let’s look at the big picture: Heavy rain and mudslides in California. Severe heat waves with 20-30 100-plus degree days in Texas, Arizona and the Midwest. Incredible droughts in the farm states wiping out entire crops. Tornadoes in frequency never seen before in Indiana, Nebraska and Iowa flattening and destroying entire towns.

However, we are in the northeast. All we can do is watch the devastation on television, listen to the radio or follow on YouTube and Twitter.

Well, not anymore. In the past few weeks we have lived through a 5.8 earthquake (on the East Coast?) felt from Florida to Canada. While the damage from this earthquake was not severe, it did close the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral, which are both in need of repairs.

Then came Hurricane Irene. Living on the East Coast we have been through many hurricanes, usually some rain and wind with overblown television coverage. Not this time.

Hurricane Irene was an intense rainmaker. The build-up was so intense that there were mandatory evacuations in parts of New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut. For the first time in history the New York City mass transit system was completely shut down and during the storm most of the bridges were closed. We watched as hospitals and nursing homes were emptied and evacuated the day before the storm arrived.

The next day came, the sun was out and we all thought we had dodged the bullet. Then the word came about the huge amount of rain from the storm. Rivers in New Jersey were expected to crest severely above flood stage, causing untold damage. Areas in upstate New York were being devastated by the large quantities of water running through the towns, and it looks like Vermont perhaps was hit the hardest. Roads and bridges surrounding entire towns were washed away leaving many totally isolated for what is predicted to be weeks with no water, food or power. Helicopters are being used to drop in essentials, and as we write this, more than 800,000 in the east are still without power. Hard to imagine.

Now the news started coming in about the casualties, not only those in the storms path but also the first responders. Those police, firefighters and EMS personnel who risk and lose their lives to assist those in need are incredibly brave. How humbling.

Parts of the East Coast of our great nation are now in shambles and perhaps for the first time, we can fully understand and appreciate what our fellow Americans in other parts of the country go through.

Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber operate Auto Biz Solutions, which provides training, marketing, management and business consulting services to both the automotive jobber and independent repair shop.

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