This time of year is typically slow for auto body work, but auto repair shops and related businesses are experiencing increased work loads from the Aug. 20 storm that ravaged New London.
George Egan’s employees at FX Auto Center on Shawano Street witnessed trees go down and a camper get tossed about as the storm blew through. Eight cars are on the schedule to be repaired from tree limb and hail damage. “We have more tree limb damage to deal with than hail,” he reported. “I’ve heard that cars nearer the Fox Valley were damaged more by hail.” He said that some repairs would not be made, as car owners opt to keep the insurance check and look for another vehicle, which is an option.
Egan was working on Avon Street when the storm hit and returned to the shop to close the large bay door. He received news later that the exact place he had been parked while working in the Fifth Ward now had a huge tree across the street. “How lucky can our whole city be? No one was killed,” he added.
Donn Howard of Back to Original Auto Body said he wrote 15 estimates on tree limb and hail damage, most of which would be repaired. One of his employees witnessed the old maple tree across the street snap off and crash to the ground. Later, that same employee attempted to get home and took several zig zags to get out of town, as trees were blocking streets and power lines were down.
Ebben’s Towing was called to remove a crushed vehicle from a street once a huge tree was removed from the wreckage. “We had a pine tree fall on our home and damage the roof line, and that’s a thousand dollar deductable,” said Bob Ebbens. “But then I look at what others are out and I’m thankful it wasn’t worse.”
Mark Gunderson of Wisconsin Glass Plus on North Shawano Street was watching out the front window of the business as the rain and walnut sized hail pelted the cars in the parking lot. “All I could see was the white of the rain and dark objects flying by. I wondered if it was a tornado because I heard a rumble like a jet engine outside.” Gunderson said he has received several walk-in glass repair jobs from the storm.
Employees at Plach Automotive on the corner of Highways 54 and 45 were warned to keep away from the huge plate glass windows when an employee observed them bowing from the high winds. “All at once the doors blew open and equalized the pressure in the showroom,” said Sharon Anderson, office manager. Anderson had driven a half mile to her North Water Street home a few minutes earlier to shut open windows and said the storm moved incredibly fast. “It was just thundering when I left for home and by the time I got there it was raining. As I left my home it was pouring down and the wind had really picked up.” Once back to work Anderson positioned herself in the shop area, the safest place at the dealership. “It was really loud from the huge raindrops and hail hitting the tin roof,” she recalled. “We’re just lucky those huge windows didn’t blow out.”