Automotive

Hurricane Ian and Having an Evacuation Plan for Your Classic Corvette



Hurricane Ian and Having a Plan for your Classic Corvette

As a Florida resident for the last 30 years, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about preparing for hurricanes. Our last experience with a major storm was back in 2017 with Irma, and we used some of those lessons to keep our Corvette safe.

My house is in South Tampa, not too far from MacDill AFB, which occupies the bottom part of the peninsula that is surrounded on three sides by Tampa Bay. Forecasts leading up to the storm put the cone right over Tampa. Not since 1921 has Tampa taken a direct hit, and the storm surge was expected to be 10 feet or higher. As my road is just 7 feet above sea level, the storm surge is the scariest thing that could happen for a collector car owner.

Before turning to the car (as I already had my plan), we spent days leading up to make sure that we were as prepped and ready for the after-storm. The generator was fired up and tested, anything loose in the yard was secured, and family members evacuated to safer parts of the State.

Preparing for Hurricane Ian
Home after the storm

Tuesday was the day before landfall, and the forecast still showed Tampa in the crosshairs with some slight movement to the East. Turning my attention to the car, I knew it had been a few months since I started my ’66 Corvette. I had put my battery charger on it over the weekend but come Tuesday morning, when it came time to try and start the car, it was still dead.

I’m alone in the house at this time as the wife had relocated to Orlando with our grandchildren, and now my only solution is to push the car out of the garage and attempt to jump-start it. Of course, if that doesn’t work, I wasn’t sure how I would get the car back into the garage as the driveway has a little bit of a slope to it.

Well, the jump start didn’t work either. Looking at the battery, the date of manufacture sticker showed June 2017. My initial thought was, “wow, I got over five years with that battery!” I pulled the battery from the car, which requires removing the Harrison overflow tank from its mount and then ran to the auto parts store, which luckily was still open, and grabbed a new battery.

It takes just a few minutes to install the battery, and the car starts up like a champ. But now I’ve got another problem…leaking gas from stuck floats in the Holley carb. It starts pooling on the top of the engine and is even flowing out with the motor off. I tried tapping the carb with a rubber mallet and even drove around the block, but the gas continued to leak from the carburetor.

Preparing for Hurricane Ian
Plan B fails, I’m going to need some help!

So now it’s around 10 am on Tuesday morning. I have a Corvette that will start but cannot be driven far due to the potential risk of an engine fire and a monster storm that is still headed my way. I called for a flatbed tow truck from the company I always use. They were stretched pretty thin, but I was able to schedule a pickup, and the truck arrived just before noon. My black Corvette was loaded on the flatbed, and off we went to the downtown Tampa parking garage.

The tow truck couldn’t go into the garage, so he dropped me at the entrance. I drive up to the fourth floor and find a perfect spot surrounded by concrete and park there. I immediately pop the hood to start cleaning up the leaked gasoline, and to my surprise, the engine was dry! It appears that a very bouncy ride on the flatbed freed up the stuck floats on the carburetor! My day is looking up, right? I lock up the car and cover it with my car cover, thinking just how lucky I was.

Preparing for Hurricane Ian
My Corvette on a flatbed as we head downtown… the sky still looking ominous.

As I was finishing up, a guy in a four-door Toyota sedan that was Right Hand Drive came in, and he parked next to me. Told me that he tried two other garages in South Tampa, and they were both full.

By the time I got back to the house, it was around 2 pm, and it was the first time that I saw the track of the storm further east, meaning it would probably make landfall south of Tampa. The best news was that the forecast for a major storm surge in Tampa Bay was diminishing with each passing hour. Knowing that, I made the decision to ride out the storm in Tampa with the dog and cats, and a happily empty garage.

Preparing for Hurrican Ian
The best part of post-Hurricane Ian was the drive home.

The rain and wind came early Wednesday afternoon and I lost power on Wednesday around 6:30 pm. As of Friday morning, I am still running on the generator. With the carburetor now working correctly, I was able to drive the Corvette home Thursday, where she is safe and sound in the garage once again.

When a major storm like Ian approaches, it feels like you are just throwing money to the wind, hoping to have everything and anything you need for when the storm passes. I wasn’t expecting to shell out a couple hundred dollars for a new car battery this week, or come up with another $115 for the tow truck ride. Thankfully, the NCM Insurance Agency offers relocation assistance and will split the cost to relocate your collector car before the storm. I sent Adam at NCM Insurance a quick note after I relocated my car, and he was quick to assure me that any help they could provide would be granted.

The pictures and videos of some of the collector and sports cars lost to the storm as it struck Southwest Florida are heartbreaking to see. We’ll use this experience to better prepare for the next time a major hurricane comes anywhere in the vicinity of the west coast of Florida. As Ian showed us, you never know where the storm may end up making landfall.

Related:

[PODCAST] Adam Boca of the NCM Insurance Agency is on the Corvette Today Podcast

NCM Insurance Agency Customer Testimonial: It Will Never Happen To Me

[VIDEO] Why You Should Insure Your Corvette or Collector Vehicle with the NCM Insurance Agency

 



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