Colorado flooding destroys cars as road closings snag auto repair work

Motorists unable to escape rising water levels ended up with damaged vehicles in Boulder County and Larimer County, Colo. and surrounding areas when historic rains hammered the area last week. Those motorists who were able to escape damage were rerouted, in many cases going out of their way for several hours on account of closed roads.

National Guard and U.S. Army troops rescued 1,750 people cut off by washed-out roads in the mountain canyons. Continuous rains made it difficult for helicopters to search for missing people.

Some motorists stranded in submerged cars had to escape through their vehicles’ windows. In some cases, rescue crews using tow trucks had to push vehicles on their sides to free trapped motorists.

Auto repair shops were among the hundreds of businesses that suffered damage from flooding.

Pellman’s Automotive Service in Boulder reopened Saturday after closing Thursday and Friday, noted Ed Layton, service consultant. He said the owner closed the shop because he didn’t want people coming to work and not being able to get back home because of closed roads.

One Pellman’s employee, who lives in Nederland, located in the mountains, was unable to get into her house because of collapsed bridge, Layton said. This employee was able to stay with friends.

Layton said he is drinking bottled water and boiled water due to concerns about contaminated drinking water.

Meanwhile, the shop is very busy with all of the damaged vehicles that have been towed in from the floods.

All American Auto Repair, a general repair shop on Longmont, Colo., suffered minor flooding, noted owner Kelly Ward. She said she expected to reopen on Tuesday after being closed since last Thursday. She said her employees were able to clear most of the water from the building on Monday.

Six miles away, businesses in Lyons, one of the hardest hit areas, face a less certain future. Lyons Automotive has been closed since Thursday and owner Charles Wing has no idea when he’ll be able to reopen the business. He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advised him it could be two to six weeks before businesses in the downtown area can reopen.

Wing said he was able to get back into the building after the police notified him that a customer needed to get something out of it. While much of the area was still flooded Monday, his building managed to escape flooding. Nonetheless, he is not allowed to go to the building until the evacuation order is lifted.

Wing said he has been calling customers to advise them their vehicles are okay. “All my customers assume their cars are destroyed, but they’re not,” he said.

Wing is discouraged that he can’t get into the building to work on cars. Even though there is no power in the building, he could use an emergency generator to provide the power he would need to work. “We have work there to do,” he said.

Wing said he tried to file for financial assistance on the FEMA website over the weekend but the website wasn’t working. He was eventually able to file over the telephone. “When they’re telling me I can’t work, I think they should step up” with assistance, he noted.

Wing is grateful that his home and those of his employees, all of whom live in Longmont, were not damaged.

Fifteen miles southwest of Longmont, Chan Foreign Car in Boulder, Colo. reopened on Saturday after closing last Thursday, noted Debbie Chan, owner of the import vehicle repair shop. She said a fuel pump needs to be pumped since water got into it.

While the shop reopened Saturday, traffic was light since many of the roads were still closed, Chan said. “A lot of people couldn’t get in and out of Boulder,” she said. Since then, a lot of cars damaged from the flood have been towed to the shop.