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NSW dealers, motorists count storm costs

Wet and wild: Several dealerships were inundated during a three-day drenching that soaked Sydney and its surrounds.

Maitland car dealers hit by flood, rain damage as NSW storm costs and claims mount

23 Apr 2015

SEVERAL motor vehicle dealerships in the small New South Wales central coast town of Maitland, near Newcastle, have been badly damaged by rain and floodwaters after this week’s three-day autumn deluge struck Sydney and its surrounds.

The situation is ongoing, with major arterial roads in and out of the township still impassable, and power and communication networks still down as the state’s estimated storm damage bill passed $160 million today and the tally of personal and commercial insurance claims went beyond 24,000.

The local Toyota dealer, Maitland Toyota, was one of the worst hit, with a reported 70 vehicles inundated with floodwater in a holding yard.

Staff members managed to rescue all pre-sold vehicles but were unable to reach the others before fast-rising floodwaters inundated the holding yard.

The dealership was also without power or communications for two days – a fate shared by much of the small mining town, which recorded more than 277mm of rain in just two days.

Holden’s dealer was also badly affected, with significant flooding to its workshop, loss of power and damage to the dealership roof.

The town’s Volkswagen dealership has also reportedly suffered stock losses in an offsite yard, while its Mazda dealership also suffered water damage in a showroom.

The Mitsubishi outlet has also been temporarily closed, due to water damage.

Dealerships in Newcastle have been affected by a widespread power outage that has impacted the city since Monday, while the nearby town of Cessnock escaped largely unscathed.

No injuries to dealership staff have been noted.

Insurance Council of Australia chief executive officer Rob Whelan said assessors were visiting policyholders where they could gain access, though many areas were still not easily accessible.

“Assessors are starting to work through claims in the affected areas, and they are prioritising those policyholders who have suffered the worst damage where they can reach the insured property,” he said.

As of 10am today, insurance companies had received 24,250 claims and insurance losses were estimated at $161 million.

The majority of claims recorded at this early stage are for property, with only a small number of vehicle claims made. However, figures are expected to rise in the next few days as areas become accessible.

Photo credit - Top: Maitland Toyota Mel Rooke and Kim Burton, Bottom: Rural Fire Service Lower Hunter.

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