Central Tire Auto Care in southeast Houston suffered damage to its inventory as well as electrical equipment, such as tire changers, after heavy rain broke through the ceiling of the dealership. The half-foot of water that entered the building had receded a few days later, according to Manager Maria Juarez.
She said homes just a mile down the road were flooded and, until Aug. 30, a couple of nearby highways were inaccessible.
She said the dealership has been "trying to help as many people as we can" by offering flat repairs and used and new tires for as much as people could afford as they tried to evacuate their homes. Debris from the flooding has caused an increase in flat tires.
Meanwhile, Montalbano Tire & Auto Service in Houston suffered minimal damage despite being located between two major bayous that had overflowed their banks. The dealership was closed for three days until most of its employees were able to arrive for work on Aug. 30.
Owner Tony Montalbano said some nearby stores and dealerships still were closed.
"It's just hit or miss what part of town folks are in," he said. For example, his house was undamaged, but his son had to evacuate his home.
Mr. Montalbano said the dealership's roof leak during the storm wasn't as bad as the foot of water that flooded the store during Hurricane Allison in 2001. "This time we were spared," he said.
On the first day back in operation, Montalbano Tire started the day with about five flat-tire repairs due to debris on the streets. He received some road service calls, but there were certain parts of town the service trucks couldn't reach due to flooded roadways.
Transamerican Auto Parts President and CEO Greg Adler said employees and their families did not have to evacuate their homes, and many from the Houston-area 4 Wheel Parts stores were helping out with the rescue and recovery efforts.
Craig Reitenour, assistant manager of 4 Wheel Parts Houston, was helping out with organizing those in the area with high-clearance vehicles, along with his own 4x4 truck, to assist with the rescue operations, the company said.
"We've been through a lot of hurricanes. This one was just different. We never got hit with this much water…," White Tire's Mr. Reeves said, recalling the dealership survived Hurricane Rita in 2005, Hurricane Ike in 2008 and several smaller storms.
"We just trudge on, that's all you can do. It's a big important time for small businesses in general because the statistic is that after a major storm, normally it's expected that communities will lose 40 percent of their small businesses," Mr. Reeves said.
"And so it's a real test because without income that long, with expenses as they are, it doesn't take long. The challenge for all small businesses, after a storm, is to keep going," he added.
"We've been in business since 1938. In January we'll be in business 80 years, so we've seen a lot of storms," he said.
In addition to the clean-up and rebuilding, a long-term impact of the flooding will be the replacement of thousands of vehicles that were flooded and rendered unsalvageable.
"We expect a lot of totaled cars, which won't present us any business…," Mr. Reeves said.
Mr. Montalbano received three calls for flooded cars when he reopened for business, "and we aren't set up for that. These cars, when they get water into the floor boards, they've already messed up the computers." Such cars are often totaled by the insurance adjusters, he said.
About 40,000 vehicles were totaled in the 2001 flooding, he recalled.
"Of course, what happens then, and we felt the brunt of that, cars we were going to do service on if they had stayed on the road or cars that needed tires that were going to stay on the road, they no longer stay on the road," Mr. Montalbano said.
"So (customers) buy new cars and you start that cycle all over again. It's going to be a big hit for us mechanical-wise and tire-wise down the road. There's no doubt about it."
Several tire and automotive aftermarket companies have announced donations to help Hurricane Harvey victims:
Discount Tire/America's Tire said as of Sept. 5 the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation had generated $100,000 in donations to help its employees affected by Hurricane Harvey. The foundation also raised $4,000, as of Aug. 31, through PayPal donations. The company said its corporate office also is hosting fundraisers, and all proceeds will be donated to the foundation to help Texas employees.
The Automotive Parts Services Group (The Group) and Auto Care Association (ACA) made donations of $20,000 and $10,000, respectively, to the Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation (AACF) to help auto care industry members impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Both parties are encouraging others to make donations at www.aacfi.org.
Tire Profiles L.L.C. said it would donate $300 for every sale of its Treadspec tire and alignment diagnostic equipment and $100 for every sale of its GrooveGlove mobile tire diagnostics to the American Red Cross to support the relief efforts in Houston and surrounding areas.