After Record Rainfall, Travelers Return To BWI To Find Waterlogged Vehicles
|By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"Yep," he said, nodding to his travel buddy
Just as he had suspected, his car -- just 14 months old and still parked where he left it before heading off on a golf trip to
"For a couple extra bucks I could have parked inside, but you never think of getting torrential rain," Donahue said.
Across Maryland and much of the Northeast on Wednesday, homeowners dialed insurers about flooded basements, while vehicle owners called insurers and mechanics about water in engines and interiors.
"I'm sure we're getting some auto, too," she said.
Dozens of vehicles in two long-term parking lots at BWI were partially submerged after rising waters overwhelmed nearby stormwater culverts. Dozens more were driven into standing or rushing water on roadways, forcing first responders into rescue boats to pull passengers to safety.
After the rains stopped, the water receded quickly. Muddy, mulch-and-stick-strewn debris was left behind, along with damaged cars.
"We have a
Brown said the amount of damage water can cause to a car depends a lot on the circumstances, including whether the vehicle is running and sucking water into itself at the time it comes in contact with the water. But vehicles can be totaled, he said.
Brown found water in the
"That thing is all full of water where it shouldn't have any," he said. "The only thing we can do is go ahead and build an estimate for what it would cost to repair or replace the items that are needed."
Then it's up to insurance to determine if the car is worth fixing at all. Memenza said water damage, whether a vehicle is parked in a flood or driven through water, should be covered by drivers' comprehensive policies, but that insurance varies.
Vehicles caught in high water should not be started "until a thorough inspection is completed," said
Brown said car owners should do that quickly, though, as "time is of the essence" when a vehicle's engine or interior is wet and susceptible to corrosion. Mold can also be an issue.
In the BWI lot, vehicles with water marks along their sides sat in the hot sun Wednesday, appearing dry. A glance inside, however, revealed water in many: pooled in the flooring of a
Up and down the parking lot, windshield wipers held down slips of yellow paper from the
The MAA owns the lots, and Gould said he was still unsure how the claims would be handled by MAA's insurers,
"We're of course sorry for all the inconvenience. I don't think it could have been anticipated," he said. "Every so often the weather overwhelms us."
"This is the first time we've ever had this occur," she said. "It was a historic rainfall."
Some travelers and vehicle owners affected by the flooding expressed frustration at what they called a lack of communication from
"When he requested assistance from the parking employee at the cashiers office, they were more concerned with collecting his parking fee than assisting him with his vehicle. Additionally, they made him wait 10-15 minutes to provide him with a claim report," McAllister wrote in an email to airport officials Wednesday morning. "During this entire event, no one express any regret or concern to his situation. They treated the event as an inconvenience for them!"
His son drove the car from the lot but said the brakes were giving him problems, McAllister said.
By Wednesday afternoon, McAllister had spoken to a representative of
"I said, 'You must have already discussed this. There are so many claims likely to come,' but he would not answer that question," McAllister said of his conversation with the company representative. "I found it very evasive."
Back in the lot, Donahue walked around his Tesla, noting damage. His wheels were already rusting. The car's interior floors felt damp.
Rather than start the car -- he didn't want to get "electrocuted or blown up," he said -- he called Tesla, which operates its own customer care service in part because its vehicles require special maintenance and handling.
The word back: Do not move the vehicle. A special Tesla towing service would arrive to retrieve the car and take it to Tesla's facilities in
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