SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s been one week since a deadly derecho tore through eastern KELOLAND, but the signs of damage are still evident in many places.
That includes the many vehicle windows currently wrapped in plastic after shattering in the hurricane-force winds.
“The damage that happened, the best way to explain it from the cars that are out there is it got sandblasted from the dirt and debris from the wall of dirt,” Tyler Van Heerde with Pierre’s Body Shop said.
The countless tiny nicks from debris add up to some large-scale repairs on hundreds of vehicles.
“You rub your hand over the vehicle and it just feels like sandpaper,” Van Heerde said. “The paint is chipped and pitted to the point where we’ll have to strip down these panels and repaint the entire side of the vehicle and replace the parts that are chipped.”
“We’re seeing the pitted up windshields, we’re seeing the shattered windows, just everything,” Glass Doctor owner Justin Eimers said.
Glass companies are also incredibly busy as the extreme wind shattered glass in hundreds of vehicles caught out in the storm.
“In the 24 years of doing auto glass and glass-related business, this is huge damage compared to what we’ve seen before,” Eimers said.
Packages filled with replacement pieces have been arriving since the storm hit on Thursday but it could still be a few weeks before everything arrives.
“Right now, just tempered glass, we’re up to over 160 pieces of glass for automobiles,” Eimers said.
But with the widespread damage from the storm, available labor is causing more of a delay than the parts.
“We were already busy before this,” Van Heerde said. “Sioux Falls is a consistently growing place and a lot of accidents happen so we were already unfortunately about a month of a backlog out.”
Pierre’s Body shop expects to be repairing storm-damaged vehicles most of the summer.
“Right now we’re at the tail end of June for scheduling vehicles to get fixed. It could be up to two months of a wait to get everything fixed,” Van Heerde said.
The broken glass can be replaced faster, but the sheer number of repairs means some long hours for everyone in the industry.
“The guys are putting in 10 plus hours a day just to help keep up,” Eimers said.
Along with the increased cost of labor, the price of parts is also up across the board. Meaning just about all of these repairs will end up meeting and surpassing any insurance deductibles.