COLUMBIA, S.C.Hurricane Joaquin blew through South Carolina earlier this month, leaving its mark in the form of unprecedented rain, flooding and potentially billions of dollars in damage to countless businesses including tire dealerships and auto ser-vice shops.
I've never seen just plain old rain water do such destruction, said Todd Brantley, owner of Columbia-based Professional Tire & Radiator. It's just unreal the way it cuts a cave under a road. I've never seen roads break apart like this.
Mr. Brantley told Tire Business his dealership was very blessed not to be directly damaged by flooding in the area.
We hear the stories of the guy down the street, the neighborhood over there, my friend across town, that type of thing, but my three technicians, my counterman, myself and my father were all just blessed to be above the water level at its highest, he said. We didn't get any real serious damage. Some people lost absolutely everything.
That's not to say his business wasn't impacted. The deluge forced him to close down on Oct. 5, and police barricades limited road access to his business for the remainder of the week.
Mr. Brantley suggested that week during a North Carolina Business Association meeting the idea of moving the barricades closer to the damaged roads, which would make it easier for customers to come back.
Everybody at the table wanted to talk about getting the barricades moved or letting people get access to their business, he said. Nobody there had been flooded out.
Other dealers weren't so lucky.
Columbia-based tire wholesaler Mid State Tire Distributors Inc. lost between eight and 10 delivery trucks and suffered flood-related damages at its headquarters in Columbia, according to owner Donald Lane.
We had two feet of water in our offices, he said. We lost our computers. Everything in our offices basically was ruined.
The firm also lost a number of supplies, including TPMS-related equipment. Mr. Lane could not provide a dollar estimate for the total damage at Tire Business press time, but he estimated the firm lost about 80 percent of its average Columbia business during the week of the flooding.
Mid State Tire, which Mr. Lane founded in October 1984, moved its operations into the Columbia warehouse in 2001. The company was in the process of relocating to a new location, also in Columbia, when the flooding happened.
We were able to get into the warehouse on Monday (Oct. 5) and the guys who work for me jumped in and they got the majority of that warehouse moved by the following Monday, Mr. Lane said.
Mid State Tire also operates a second distribution warehouse in Greenville, S.C.
Mr. Lane added that most of the major damage in the area was to roads and bridges and he was unaware if any of his customers had incurred damage in the flooding.
Several tire makers made a point to get involved in recovery efforts. Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C. and Michelin North America Inc., both based in South Carolina, made contributions.
Conti donated $115,000 to the American Red Cross to be used in recovery efforts following the catastrophic flooding. The donationswhich comprise $15,000 from Continental Tire the Americas and $100,000 from parent firm Continental A.G.will serve to help residents in the area who were impacted, the tire maker said.
We appreciate the generosity of businesses like Continental, whose financial support for the relief operation enables the Red Cross to help communities affected by the widespread flooding across South Carolina, said Louise Welch Williams, regional Red Cross CEO for Palmetto South Carolina.
Conti employs about 1,300 at three facilities in the state. The tire maker said it was fortunate enough to remain unaffected by the flooding, but many of its employees and their families were impacted in the Sumter, S.C., area.
According to Conti, the town of Sumter received 20 inches of rain in 48 hours. Due to the inundation of the water and sewage system, Sumter was placed under a boil water advisory for several days, as well as a nightly curfew, the company added.
Immediately following the flooding, employees from the Fort Mill headquarters location for Continental Tire delivered more than 16,000 water bottles to their colleagues at the Sumter facility.
It is incredibly important that we help each other during difficult circumstances, said Jochen Etzel, CEO of Continental Tire the Americas. The time and resources our employees have dedicated to helping one another during this time shows a great sense of pride in South Carolina and our Continental family.
Michelin donated another $100,000 to the American Red Cross in support of flood-relief efforts.
Because of the hard work and dedication of the people who live and work across South Carolina, Michelin has become one of the largest private employers in the state, said Michelin Chairman and President Pete Selleck. Like so many others in the midlands and the low country, the lives of Michelin families have been uprooted by the recent floods.
Though its Akron headquarters is far from the flooding and devastation, Goodyear also assisted in the South Carolina recovery efforts through its company-owned Tire & Service Network commercial stores, using them as clean drinking water centers for residents after the severe flooding left thousands of people in the area without drinkable water.
According to a spokesperson for the tire maker, each store stocked about six pallets worth of bottled water to give away.
To reach this reporter: wschertz@ crain.com; 330-865-6148; Twitter: @Will_Schertz
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