Houston car shredders aren’t begging for scraps after a storm like Harvey

Cars remain stranded along a flooded section of Interstate 45 after heavy rains overnight in Houston, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Several major highways are closed in the Houston area due to high water. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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Scrap yards specializing in shredding cars are not only doing brisk business in post-Harvey Houston, but they are serving an environmental and economic purpose.

With estimates ranging from half a million to over a million flooded cars, these massive shredders can turn a one-ton vehicle into piles of metallic dust in under a minute. Nearly one-third of the steel used to manufacture new cars comes from scrap metal.

The use of scrap metal reduces the need to mine for more iron, cuts back on pollution from steel mills, while still maintaining the metal’s strength and durability. Scrap metal also keeps manufacturing costs down, which keeps new car prices at a reasonable level.

RELATED: Houston City Council adds $60M to Harvey debris removal contracts

When a vehicle gets flooded, the insurance carrier will inspect it as part of the driver’s claim. If the insurer declares the vehicle a total loss, the vehicle goes to a salvage auction, where scrap dealers can buy it, either for working parts or for shredding and recycling.

While some scrap dealers get their vehicles through auctions, others get theirs through the manufacturers themselves. Since so many auto dealerships experienced flooding during Harvey, manufacturers are also looking to unload their damaged and destroyed vehicles.

One Houston scrap dealer told a local newspaper he acquired up to 600 Ford F-150 pickup trucks from the automaker that were too damaged to sell.

RELATED: Report: Harvey debris cleanup crews dumping appliances in front yards

Thousands of flood-damaged cars are still being stored at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, just east of Houston, because the auction lots are already full. Most of those cars will end up in shredders, their metal recycled, reformed and reborn into a new vehicle in the months and years to come.

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