The morning of Thursday, Aug. 31, Sonic Automotive Inc. leaders launched a 22-foot wakeboard boat into murky waters, propelling it slowly through narrow canals of 3 to 4 feet of water that led to what looked like a small lake.
This was no fishing trip. It was a rescue mission in the middle of Houston, a city left mangled and underwater in the aftermath of Harvey.
"It smelled like sewage," said Jeff Dyke, Sonic's executive vice president of operations. He and several Sonic associates spent the entire day on the boat, helping dozens of Sonic employees retrieve valuables from their wrecked homes or rescue those still trapped in houses. Meanwhile, Sonic, the fifth-largest dealership group in the U.S., was taking steps to reopen its stores to serve customers who need to service or replace vehicles.
Dyke has experienced floods in his hometown of Houston before but said it was "a war zone" this time.