A common scene on the nightly news late in 2018 was roads jammed with cars as residents first in Florida and then in North and South Carolina sought to evacuate before the arrival of a hurricane. Those who opted to ride out the storms regretted it, notably Hurricane Michael, which was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the United States. The storm, which hit the Florida panhandle on October 10, took the life of 60 individuals and caused more than $14.58 billion in damage across Central America, Mexico and the United States.
Mere weeks later, Hurricane Florence, which hit the Carolinas, resulted in more than 50 fatalities and caused another $16.7 billion in damage. Together, these storms proved why evacuating is always the best course of action.
However, all too often there are those sad tales of individuals who do try to get out only to face car trouble. Getting stuck on the side of the road can be worse than sheltering at home! This is where Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers stepped up to help their neighbors in advance of the storms.
“Our goal with these storms was to help people get out safely,” said Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers spokesperson Nicole Self. “We knew that people were thinking about evacuation, but that means so many cars on the road. So we sent the word out by social media that customers could come by to get free tire patches and have a free 20-point inspection so they would know their cars would be able to get them to safety.”
To all those in the path of Hurricane Florence, we want to HELP!
Visit any of our Virginia, North Carolina, or South Carolina locations for:
– FREE Tire Patches
– FREE 20-Point Inspections
— Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers (@ExpressOil) September 12, 2018
Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers offered this service at the four locations in the Florida panhandle that were in the immediate path of the storm, as well as another seven locations in the Mobile, Alabama-area, where many were headed.
“All of our shops in the vicinity offered this service,” Self said and added that the same services were offered again for Hurricane Florence. “We did offer the same help for both hurricanes and will offer this anytime a hurricane is coming.”
The response was so great at several shops that many employees stayed until the very last minute.
“We saw that a lot of people didn’t hear we were doing this but then drove by and chose to have their cars checked,” Self explained. “Our team really pulled together. At some shops, you couldn’t drag our guys away even as the storm was coming. One guy absolutely refused to leave as long as there were people that wanted their cars checked. He wanted to do his part for those who needed to get out.”
As noted by the destruction, for many, leaving was the best course of action. Hurricane Michael hit the Panama City area hard, leaving devastation in its wake with entire neighborhoods literally blown away.
“There are parts of that area that look like nothing existed there,” Self said.
Now, as the rebuilding has begun in Florida and the Carolinas recover from the one-two punch of hurricanes, Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers is there.
“We’re happy to report that we made it through the storms,” Self told NOLN. “There was some water damage, but, fortunately, in almost all our locations, the pits didn’t flood this time.”
Around Panama City, the Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers shops were up and running even before the power was back on, but Self said all that could be done was oil changes. However, for many customers who did try to wait out the storm, having their cars serviced was an absolute must.
The local shops, which already do seasonal food drives to help those in need, also stepped up after the storm by collecting water for first responders and the cleanup crews.
“That is how our guys work. They were back as soon as they could get there. Once the power was back on, we were up and running and helping our customers get their cars serviced,” Self said.
The recovery, especially in Florida, will be slow going, but this region is tough and resilient.
“The city has done a great job of rallying the local populace,” Self said. “This area will be back, and Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers will do its part to help.”