Harvey’s Toll on Houston’s Car Lovers


Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Hurricane Harvey’s long stay over Texas brought a number of unfortunate superlatives with it. One of note? The storm destroyed 300,000 to 500,000 vehicles, according to early estimates. The top end of that range would mean that the storm and its effects destroyed more than hurricanes Katrina and Sandy combined. Those half a million vehicles equal more than 3 percent of all new U.S. sales expected this year (and are already a significant arbitrage opportunity, too).

Paths of Destruction

Vehicles damaged in major U.S. hurricanes*

Source: Washington Post

*Early estimates of vehicles damaged by Hurricane Harvey
range from 300,000 to 500,000.

It’s not cars that Texans want, though. “Everybody coming out wants a Jeep or truck,” one dealer sales representative told the Washington Post.

That desire for larger, higher-clearance vehicles is worth looking at, especially over the 12 years since Hurricane Katrina. In 2005, there was a brief spike in truck buying to a level that wouldn’t be seen again until 2016; even after Hurricane Sandy, there wasn’t such a bump.