Car dealerships suffered little damage from the tornado that ravaged an Oklahoma City suburb last week. So they were able to jump into the relief effort quickly, joining automakers and aid groups to help survivors.
The tornado caused at least 24 deaths as it devastated Moore, Okla. Several auto dealerships and the vehicles they held in inventory were damaged by hail, and the homes of some employees were damaged or destroyed.
CEO David Stanley said inventory at two of David Stanley Automotive Group's three stores in central Oklahoma sustained damage.
Brent Wilson, general manager of David Stanley Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in Midwest City, said nearly all of the 750 new and 250 used vehicles on his lot were damaged. About five dealership employees' homes were destroyed or damaged.
He said he expected dealership operations to return to normal within days, but said business wasn't likely to pick up for several weeks.
Wilson said that when his employees arrived at work the morning after the tornado, they called local radio stations to organize a drive for needed supplies.
His employees planned to use a truck from a local furniture store to deliver toiletries and other necessities to storm victims.
David Hudiburg, president of Hudiburg Auto Group, a five-store group in the area, said one of his 400 employees lost his home, five had minor damage to their dwellings and 20 were without power.
In May 1999, one of Hudiburg's stores was hit by a massive tornado, damaging all 800 vehicles and 70 percent of his dealership. "So I know what it's like to wake up and not have a business," he said.
Hudiburg is helping the Red Cross, Salvation Army and United Way provide transportation for relief workers and people whose homes were destroyed.
Ford Motor Co. will match donations from dealers, the public and employees up to $250,000 and donate a Ford Transit Connect van to the American Red Cross. Oklahoma Ford dealers plan to donate $150,000 to the United Way.
Among the other offers of assistance, the Volks-wagen of America Foundation will donate $250,000 to the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity to assist with the disaster relief efforts.
Toyota Motor Corp. said it will donate $250,000 to support relief and rebuilding efforts, and will match employees' donations. The General Motors Foundation is giving $50,000, and Chevrolet is donating a 2013 Silverado to help with relief efforts, GM said.
The Chrysler Foundation plans to donate $100,000 to the First Response Team of America, which assists with disaster relief.