JAMIE LaREAU

For one dealer Sandy brings strong memories of Carol

Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News.Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News.
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Bob Tasca Jr. had a bit of deja vu this week.

Tasca owns Tasca Automotive Group. He has a Ford-Lincoln-Mazda-Volvo store in Cranston, R.I., and sells Fords and Mazdas in Seekonk, Mass.

When Tasca heard on Monday that Hurricane Sandy was headed for those areas, he was in Las Vegas. But a flashback to childhood rattled his nerves. This was not Tasca's first run-in with a hurricane.

"My father's first Ford dealership was in Bristol, R.I., and it was destroyed in 1954 by Hurricane Carol," Tasca said. "I was a very little kid at the time, but it wiped my father out."

Tasca's father, Bob Tasca Sr., then moved to East Providence and rebuilt there. Tasca Sr. went on to become a longtime Ford dealer and a drag racing star in the 1960s and 1970s. He died in 2010 at age 83.

The city of Providence, meanwhile, realized it needed better protection after having been devastated twice by a hurricane in 1938 and again in 1954, Tasca said. So in the 1960s, the government built a barrier in Providence to protect the low-lying downtown area of the city from hurricane-driven storm surges and floods.

When Sandy hit Monday night it caused very minor damage to Tasca's dealership in Seekonk, Mass. But his store in Rhode Island wasn't damaged. He credits the 3,000-foot tidal flood barrier that spans the Providence River for not allowing Sandy to repeat the history of Carol.

"A lot of the city is built over water, so the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier saved the city of Providence from this hurricane," Tasca said. "I was nervous, but we were lucky."

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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