Sandy's flooded cars, railroad washout and the mariners' tree

December 14, 2012

We all know how lucky we were with Hurricane Sandy this fall. Consider this: State Farm Insurance Broker George Bunting said it's estimated 250,000 cars were lost to the storm's flooding. Most of those, of course, were in the New Jersey and New York direct-hit area of the storm. Although we missed the worst part of the hurricane, Sandy still brought a fair amount of flooding, and that flooding resulted in the loss of a few dozen cars in Delaware's Cape Region. Bunting said he saw claims for about 15 through his office.

“If they get a little bit of saltwater in them, they get totaled pretty quickly,” said Bunting. “No questions asked usually. There's too much concern that the flooding could cause fires later or brake problems. People are getting top dollar on their cars. The problem - with the market for cars being up - is finding a comparable replacement for a flooded vehicle.”

Bob Temple, a salesman at Lewes Auto Mall, said he sold two cars last month to replace flooded vehicles. “One was for an owner in South Bethany, the other on Lewes Beach,” said Temple.

Bunting said many of the flooded cars are being towed to a bull pen in Seaford. I remember several years ago walking in the woods behind Harold Shaffer's tire and bicycle complex on Route 1 next to Red Mill Pond. A piece of high ground with hardwoods and a little bit of roll, it served as final resting place for several cars towed out of Rehoboth Beach after the March storm of 1962 flooded the first block with saltwater. The style of the cars, now 50 and more years old and overgrown by nature, remains a signal of the era that conceived and built them.

Railroad suffers minor washout

Flooded cars weren't the only transportation-related damage from Sandy. The upper reaches of a flooding Canary Creek, just west of Donovan-Smith Trailer Park in Lewes, washed out the fill dirt and gravel around a culvert beneath the railroad line that runs between Georgetown and Lewes. The washout left rails and ties hanging over daylight and prompted a couple-day repair by the operators of the line, Delaware Coast Line Railroad. That section of the railroad only serves one customer: SPI Pharma and its facility near the entrance to Cape Henlopen State Park. An engine and three or four cars make the transit to SPI about once every eight to 14 days so the disruption didn't likely cause much of a problem.

Mariners' Christmas Tree returns

Rehoboth Beach City Manager Greg Ferrese called a couple of weeks back to announce that the city's public works department had once again erected the Mariners' Christmas Tree in the small park just north of the Henlopen Hotel. The tree was one of former Rehoboth parks czar John Brown's favorite seasonal projects. The tall, lighted Christmas tree shape, just inside the Boardwalk, sends Christmas joy seaward at night to mariners passing by on ships and boats, large and small.

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