WILMINGTON, N.C. — With the hum of fans and portable dehumidifiers audible in the background, John Allen of Hughes Bros. Inc. in Wilmington described the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which flooded his store and devastated many towns in North Carolina in mid September — "This town looks like a bomb went off."
Hurricane Florence made landfall on the North Carolina coast Sept. 14 and proceeded to drop record rainfall over the area, which in turn caused rivers to overflow their banks and flood surrounding communities.
One of Mr. Allen's two tire stores in Wilmington lost part of its roof during the storm and suffered water damage. The shop was closed for eight days as employees tried to dry out and clean up the facilities; the other store wasn't damaged but was closed for three days due to power outages.
Hughes Bros. was one of the unlucky dealerships in the hurricane's path. Several tire dealerships contacted by Tire Business reported minimal or no damage due to being located away from the flooding rivers or on high ground.
"It's such a mixed bag of which businesses got slammed and which did not," according to Reece Hester, executive director, North Carolina Tire Dealers Association, who also contacted various members to access the hurricane's impact.
Black's Tire Service, which operates more than 45 stores in North and South Carolina, said eight of its stores in North Carolina suffered structural damage during the storm and some were flooded.
"We were right in the path of the storm," Rick Benton, vice president of Black's Tire, said of the dealership's four stores in Wilmington, two in Jacksonville, north of Wilmington, and one each in New Bern and Lumberton.
"We're not even in flood zones," Mr. Benton said, noting that this storm was "absolutely worse" than the flooding from Hurricane Matthew two years ago.
Black's Tire, also a large wholesale distributor in the area, noted that many of its dealer customers avoided damage in the storm and flooding but were impacted by inaccessible roads.