DIANA T. KURYLKO

New Jersey struggles in the storm's aftermath

New Jersey resident Diana T. Kurylko covers various U.S. import brands for Automotive News.New Jersey resident Diana T. Kurylko covers various U.S. import brands for Automotive News.
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New Jersey is a mess.

Dealerships where I live in northwest New Jersey were all closed yesterday, mainly because the power hasn't been restored. Lines for gas are miles long. Some stations will only fill containers people carry to the pumps.

It's hard to imagine anyone will be out shopping for a vehicle any time soon. Hundreds of us from my city -- and we weren't hit as hard as South Jersey and parts of New York on the water -- are in a middle school using the charging stations and getting warm.

We are waiting for power and the heat and hot water that comes with it, just like many of those who work for New Jersey's 515 new vehicle dealerships and the Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo and Subaru employees affected by the hurricane. Those four companies all have their U.S. headquarters here in New Jersey.

It wasn't clear today how many of the state's dealerships have reopened.

Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, said more than 400 new and used car dealerships were affected by the storm. He estimated two or three dozen dealerships had property damage or were located in inaccessible areas. The worst damage took place in the Meadowlands area, he said.

Eventually, the hundreds of thousands of people whose cars and homes that have been under water will need replacement vehicles. And dealerships will rebuild.

But the lost sales and wages and the millions of dollars that will have to be spent to rebuild dealerships will be staggering. New Orleans did it. I am sure New Jersey can too.

Theresa Clift contributed to this report.

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at dkurylko@crain.com. -- Follow Diana on Twitter

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