It’s been a week since Hurricane Harvey swamped Houston, but tow trucks are still hauling vehicles from flooded neighborhoods to dealerships or giant fields where insurance adjusters can assess the damage. According to the Associated Press, Harvey killed at least 70 people, destroyed or damaged 200,000 homes and inflicted a transportation catastrophe on a city known for being one of America’s most car-dependent.
Some sources say the Houston area has lost hundreds of thousands of cars and is causing a labor shortage. People are scrambling to rent or borrow cars to get to work and for some, not being able to get there means even more financial hardship on top of the money problems they are already facing due to the storm.
More than 94 percent of Houston’s households have cars, second only to Dallas, according to the Cox Automotive consultancy. Walk Score says Houston is even less friendly to walking, bicycle-riding and mass transit than Los Angeles. https://www.redfin.com/how-walk-score-works
Fourteen-lane highways are a common sight there. Outside the city center, there are isolated islands of office towers and most people work 25 to 30 miles from home.
Sitting in water for several days made most of the cars unsalvageable.Officials estimate that at least 500,000 vehicles were damaged or destroyed, adding up to nearly $5 billion in damage. Over 160,000 auto auto insurance claims have been filed, according to the Insurance Council of Texas.
Car rental companies have moved thousands of cars to the area to help with the major shortage of rental cars but it’s still not enough.
Urban planners say Houston and its suburbs were ill-prepared for a storm like Harvey. Bus and train service is limited and some suburban areas never joined the region’s transit authority.