Lessons Learned

With what many have called the “Storm of the Century” now history and the hope that such a catastrophe waits another 100 years to occur again, lessons can be taken from the event to help prepare you and your Pontiac for a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Coastal residents have no illusions -- especially now -- about the risks of living near the ocean when massive storms hit. It is obvious for the car collector/enthusiast, or anyone wanting to protect what is in many cases their second-most-valuable possession, moving the vehicle away from the water, whether an ocean, inlet, or canal, makes the most sense.

Putting the car on a lift or parked on a hill at higher elevation may be an option as well. Many vehicle owners I spoke to parked their cars on the upper levels of the closest shopping mall with a garage, and put a note in the windshield. All are good ideas when extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary measures.

As for the effects of wind, rain, hail, snow, and whatever else the elements can dole out, a garage or good-fitting cover is usually the best bet for most regions and eventualities. Here are some more ideas.

More Storm Prep Tips

To protect against hail damage, place a fluffy large bed comforter over flat areas such as the hood, roof, and trunk lid, then secure it with a car cover over the top, and keep it tight with bungi cords.

To protect against damaging, debris-carrying winds, park the vehicle behind a strong structure or up against a wall opposite the main direction of the wind gusts. Don’t park near trees or loose objects during high-wind events.

Convertible and T-top owners can protect their interiors from leakage during high winds and rain by sealing shut points with large plastic trash bags to aid the weatherstripping. Leave about 3 inches of bag exposed on the exterior to act as a rain gutter.

In the event the car may be moved at the last minute, plan ahead, keep informed of the weather forecast, keep the gas tank filled, and make sure the battery is charged and the car ready to go at a moment’s notice.

If the car is in a free-standing garage in a low-lying area close to water, you may want to consult a contractor about the possibility of installing vents in the lower structure to allow for water to run through and not collect and pool.

If the car had minimal non-salt water exposure, start the drying process as quickly as possible by removing the cover and extracting moisture from the affected areas. Compressed air and wet/dry vacs can be of assistance.

Definitely have some plan of action -- give it some thought before a disaster, not during.

Do not place yourself or others in harm’s way in a desperate effort to save your car. Yes, we love our Pontiacs, but they are replaceable -- you aren’t.

Insurance

Many car enthusiasts who experienced loss due to the superstorm were without insurance. Citing lack of use or being a work-in-progress that was not road-ready, coverage was allowed to lapse. After putting thousands of dollars and years of work and passion into these labors of love, many now have nothing to show for it and no means of replacement.

Classic-car insurance companies are very understanding of the car hobbyists needs. Many offer comprehensive “non-collision” coverage on cars that are works-in-progress or are in long-term storage so that the agreed upon replacement value can be secured in the event of a natural disaster.

As an example, Ford Heacock, president of Heacock Classic, explained that Heacock offers “Comprehensive Only” coverage for collector vehicles during restoration or while in extended storage. The policy provides an “Agreed Value” insurance limit, which can be changed or updated as your vehicle progresses through its restoration. In the event of a fire, theft, flood, and so on, which causes a total loss, you’re guaranteed to receive the full value of the insurance on the vehicle at the time of loss.