News Culture

Before-and-After Photos Show Mountain of Cars Trashed by Hurricane Ian

Thousands of vehicles damaged by the record-breaking storm have been sent to a huge lot outside of Clewiston, Florida.
Planet Labs

Hurricane Ian took a horrible toll on the state of Florida when it made landfall Sept. 28. At last count, more than 140 people lost their lives in the storm. The damage to personal property is numbered in the tens of billions of dollars. Among the most visible items lost were cars, and now that cleanup has begun in earnest, we can get a glimpse of the number of vehicles lost by looking at inventory in vehicle salvage lots operated by a few companies including Copart. One of its biggest locations, on the coast of Lake Okeechobee near the town of Clewiston, had roughly a few hundred vehicles on Sept. 23. A little more than a month later on Oct. 30 satellite images show that the location is absolutely packed with new arrivals.

The shocking increase in inventory was noted by CarDealershipGuy on Twitter, although satellite images we’ve gathered as well as reporting by local media complete the picture. To be clear, Copart is not the only auto salvage business in the state of Florida. Even so, a spokeswoman for the company speaking to News-Press claims it has recovered more than 60,000 vehicles since Ian made landfall. The cars in the pictures below are only a fraction of that.

Copart’s Clewiston facility is considered a sub-lot of its Miami South location, which makes identifying the exact increase in vehicles at the particular lot difficult. We’ve reached out to Copart in an attempt to get a more precise idea of how many cars have been added at this location in particular as well as the total amount of vehicles recovered.

The increase at this location in particular is likely due to many other car lots operated by Copart, or its largest competitor Insurance Auto Auctions, were full or nearly full even before the hurricane hit, at least according to satellite images. The result is that the river of totaled cars follows the path of least resistance, aka, straight to the big empty lot outside Clewiston. The complete truth of the matter is of course likely more nuanced.

As we’ve previously reported, buying a flood car with the intent of fixing it probably isn’t a good idea, even if it is a Maserati MC20. Many of these flooded cars will likely be salvaged for undamaged parts and then scrapped.

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