It’s not their final resting place, but thousands of cars, pickups and recreational vehicles that were pummeled by two destructive summer hailstorms have found a temporary home in Colorado Springs.
A privately owned, nearly 45-acre parcel southeast of Platte Avenue and Wooten Road on the city’s east side again is serving as a storage lot for hail-damaged vehicles — just as it did after an epic hailstorm in July 2016. This time, however, the number of vehicles being stored is roughly twice as many.
About 5,000 vehicles damaged in the June 13 and Aug. 6 storms — which insurance companies “totaled” or determined were too costly to repair — have filled the property, estimated Randy Cloud, a member of the Cloud Family Partnership of Colorado Springs. The partnership owns the land where the vehicles are stored and is the owner and operator of the next door Colorado Springs Flea Market.
“The double hit made a huge impact this year,” he said.
Copart Inc., a Dallas-based company that conducts online auctions nationwide of damaged, stolen and wrecked vehicles, is renting the Platte-and-Wooten property on a monthly basis, Cloud said. The company also rented the property in 2016.
Both times, the property rental has been a financial plus for the Clouds.
“I’m sorry that the double-storm hit has been so unfortunate for so many people,” Cloud said, “but it’s turned into a positive opportunity for us to lease our ground.”
What’s the magnitude of 5,000 vehicles now in storage? Cloud didn’t know the mix of vehicles being stored on site — what percentage are cars, trucks or RVs, although he said cars outnumber trucks.
But if all 5,000 vehicles were cars, and they were laid end-to-end, they’d stretch almost the entire length of Academy Boulevard as it runs through Colorado Springs — from near Interstate 25 on the north to where Academy connects with I-25 on the south. That’s based on an average American car length of 15 feet, according to the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research, and an online estimate of Academy’s approximate 15-mile length through the city.
The June 13 storm caused an estimated $169 million in damage to homes and vehicles, while the Aug. 6 storm triggered $172.8 million in claims, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
For Copart, its vehicle auctions are big business. The company has more than 200 locations in 12 countries, according to its website; the company opened a Colorado Springs location two years ago on the site of a former greyhound race track at 3701 N. Nevada Ave. While the North Nevada location serves as a permanent storage facility to hold vehicles for Copart’s online auctions, the company often seeks additional, short-term sites to store vehicles after disasters such as hailstorms and floods.
A company statement of operations emailed to The Gazette said vehicles typically are in short-term storage for an average of 50 to 60 days. Cloud, however, said he expects the vehicles to remain on his property for four to five months, although the inventory has started to shrink as tow trucks and car carriers show up to haul away vehicles that presumably have been auctioned.
Copart gets its vehicles from insurance companies, licensed dealers, financial institutions, charities and cities, among others, according to the company’s operations statement; buyers typically are rebuilders, licensed dismantlers, used-car dealers and exporters.
Buyers must become “registered members” with Copart and meet company requirements to bid on vehicles at auction; individuals who meet membership requirements and become Copart members also can bid.
Stored vehicles are sold via online auctions on Copart’s website and mobile app. No auctions take place at Copart storage lots, and Cloud stressed that no auctions will take place at his Platte-and-Wooten property.
Vehicles can be inspected on Copart’s website for any of the cities where it operates, including Colorado Springs; the next online auction for vehicles in the Springs is scheduled for noon Aug. 29, the company’s website shows. What happens to the vehicles once they’re auctioned?
“That’s up to the buyer,” the Copart attorney said via email. “The vehicles might be exported, used for parts, or depending on the level of damage, reconditioned in accordance with applicable law.”