Preliminary reports are estimating the flood waters from Hurricane Harvey damaged or destroyed up to 1 million vehicles across southeast Texas.
The data management company Solera Holdings, based in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Westlake, compiled the report for its insurance carrier clients.
Despite its extensive findings, the report does not estimate the economic effects the loss of these vehicles will bring to the auto-centric city of Houston.
The Houston metropolitan area covers more than 600 square miles, or about the size of the state of New Jersey.
Thanks in part to the sheer size, nearly 95 percent of Houstonians own at least one vehicle, with the average Houstonian owning two.
Combined with a lack of adequate public transportation to outlying areas and citizens’ reliance on their vehicles, urban sprawl left Houston all but crippled, as citizens try to get rides to whatever jobs are available, whichever grocery stores are open and whomever else in the family in need of care in the aftermath of the most severe rainfall event in U.S. history.
The storm left those without working vehicles with few options:
Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft rely on drivers to share their cars with others, and, when those cars are no longer available, these services lose both drivers and customers.
Furthermore, car rental agencies, including Enterprise and Avis, saw hundreds of vehicles in their fleet damaged during the storm.
To make matters more complicated, the city’s public transportation system, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO), also does not reach all areas of the city, especially the outlying areas where hundreds of thousands of commuters live.
Many commuters who must now depend on METRO are finding their commutes to be twice as long as they were when they drove themselves before the storm.
They are also reportedly discovering they must deal with long and unsafe walks from their bus stop to their destination.
“Having a car in this city is essential,” Kenneth Hurst, a software developer who lost his car in the floods, said in an interview. “This is not New York. This is not DC. This is not one of those major metropolitan cities with public transportation that you could get around the clock.”
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