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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Body shops overwhelmed after storms

  • With auto insurance claims topping 28,000 since May 19, paint and body shops across Oklahoma have been overwhelmed with a desperate need for repairs. Insurances companies have paid out more than $62 million in private and commercial claims.
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  • With auto insurance claims topping 28,000 since May 19, paint and body shops across Oklahoma have been overwhelmed with a desperate need for repairs. Insurances companies have paid out more than $62 million in private and commercial claims.
     
    Massive hailstorms and flying two-by-fours have caused numerous dents and knocked out windows for many residents residing in the paths of recent severe storms.
     
    “The demand for storm damage repairs is up nearly 400 percent for us just in the last month,” said Dennis Enright, owner of D & R Body Shop. “Half of the staff is working 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to keep up with all the repairs.”
     
    Some vehicles need entire roof panels and windshields replaced, which takes additional time to order and install.
     
    Even with several employees working 16-hour shifts, Enright said his shop is booked to capacity for about two months. Compared to auto repair shops in Oklahoma City metro, a two-month wait time seems insignificant.
     
    “Customers have come all the way from Norman, Yukon and Edmond to find a repair shop that isn’t full for the next four months” Enright said.
     
    With only seven employees, we’re understaffed, but hiring more assistants would mean leaving them without jobs once tornado season is over, he said.
     
    Pat Fitzgerald, owner of Lonnie’s Paint & Body Shop, also said he is concerned about hiring extra help during the rush.
     
    “We’re backed up and full for several weeks,” he said. “You’re doing it as fast as you can but it never seems to be enough.”
     
    I can’t guarantee employment in a few weeks if I were to hire more assistants to compensate for the increase in repairs, Fitzgerald said.
     
    Both the number of damaged vehicles and the severity of the damage have increased significantly this year.
     
    “Many of the estimates are in the $7,000 to $10,000 neighborhood this year,” he said. “Last year, most estimates were in the $3,000 to $4,000 range.
     
    “We’ve seen an increase in damage over the last several years, but the need for hail damage repair alone is up about 50 percent just from last year.”
     

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