This is not the re-telling of the destruction wrought by Superstorm Sandy. Instead it’s the story of four Pontiac brethren, who, in the face of impending disaster, did what they could to ensure their beloved Ponchos’ survival.
With hurricane season (June through November) upon us again, HPP felt a cautionary story such as this -- including tips to better prepare your Pontiac during a similar natural disaster -- would be timely.
These Pontiac faithful all hail from Long Island, New York, an area that was pounded heavily during Sandy’s frightfully long crawl up the East Coast.
Eric Aull: ’67 GTO
For a week prior to the hurricane, Eric Aull, a retired police helicopter pilot from Babylon, New York, was making plans to protect his freshly finished ’67 Pro-Touring Goat from the wrath of the predicted storm surge. Living near the water like many Long Islanders, Eric was no stranger to the coming threat.
His GTO had just returned from receiving extensive exhaust, engine, and interior work, bringing a four-year project to the edge of completion. Eric knew that moving the Pontiac to higher ground was key, and after several calls to friends with shops and garages away from the coast, salvation was found right up the block.
With only hours to spare, Eric contacted the daughter of an old friend who had recently passed away. He was a doctor/car enthusiast, who had lived across the street at higher elevation. Through his understanding family, Eric was permitted to tuck his six-figure Goat into the unused garage for the duration of the storm.
After the flood waters receded -- revealing the total loss of his first floor and finished garage/shop, where the GTO would have been -- Eric was relieved to find his pristine ride sitting high and dry only yards from his house. Call it planning, luck, or a little heavenly intervention, Eric’s GTO survived.
Andy Appelbaum: ’99 30th Anniversary T/A
About 20 miles southwest in Hewlett, NewYork, Andy Appelbaum was just about ready to move his super-rare number-29-of-535-built, ’99 30th Anniversary WS6 T/A convertible into its freshly renovated (but not completely finished) garage behind his house. The only factor delaying the move to nestle his precious Bird into its new home was the slow-drying epoxy floorpaint.
With the wind howling and the sky turning as gray as smoke, Andy had a decision to make -- leave the car outside for the storm, or risk ruining the floor and possibly his tires by parking his Pontiac on the still-tacky epoxy paint. He waited as long as he could, confirmed the relative dryness of the floor, and rolled the T/A into its shelter just before the full force of the storm hit.
As Sandy’s fury ravaged the area, its wind ripped a massive 6-foot metal-and-wood-framed window from the house next door onto right where the Bird would have been sitting. It fell two stories, striking the ground and exploding into pieces. If the T/A had been there? ’Nuff said. The next morning, Andy was pleased to see that floodwaters had spared his area. His beloved Bird was safe and dry, and so was the epoxy floor. Fate had spoken -- a new garage had saved the day and a future classic.
Eric Corr: ’98 WS6 T/A
Two towns away in Cedarhurst, Eric Corr was well aware of the coming danger, as his house sits at sea level close to a nearby inlet. With flooding always a problem and tides expected to be 8-10 feet above normal, Eric needed to move fast.
He would find refuge inland for his ’98 WS6 T/A if possible. As the storm approached, he sought the help of his former employer at a shop one town over, away from the water. Eric asked to put his custom-painted WS6 up on a lift to ride it out. His former boss agreed, and perched the Bird next to a lift cradling a customer’s Audi A8 (someone obviously had same idea). Luckily the shop’s locale was spared the flooding, and the T/A was saved. The same cannot be said for Eric’s house, which sustained terrible damage, as well as the loss of his daily driver.
Craig Nussbaum: Rare Second-Gen T/As
On the coast in the soon-to-be devastated community of Long Beach, Craig Nussbaum (no relation to the author) began preparations to move his flock of Second-Gen T/As out of harm’s way. He secured the use of a garage in the town of Merrick -- certainly not out of the danger zone, but further from the ocean than his Long Beach residence.
In the days before the storm, Craig transported his ’79 10th Anniversary T/A, his ’81 Turbo T/A Daytona 500 Edition, and his 13,000-mile ’81 Bandit T/A. One car was forced to remain home due to lack of space -- Craig’s other ’81 Bandit car with only 40,000 miles, which he had owned for 10 years.
Hoping for the best, he left the iconic Bird in its underground garage spot and battened down the hatches. The end of this story like the others mentioned is one of tragedy and triumph. All of the T/As Craig moved survived unscathed. The one that stayed home did not. He now enjoys his remaining T/As with renewed fervor.