Dave Brindle, owner of Brindle’s Auto Body, 7318 Village Lane in St. Thomas, located in southcentral Pennsylvania, got a double whammy when both his business and his home, located about a half mile apart, got hit by Superstorm Sandy.
The eye of the storm went over the area north of Chambersburg and concentrated in St. Thomas and Mercersburg, PA, according to the Franklin County Department of Emergency Services.
“The storm took a path right through St. Thomas,” Brindle said of the small town. The damage to his shop was worse than he initially thought.
Brindle, who has been in business for more than 20 years, was able to save all the vehicles the shop had at the time because they noticed the roof coming down in time to save the cars. The storm blew the roof off and falling rafters damaged and pulled down walls. The building is now gutted and will need to be re-wired as the storm also pulled out the power lines. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
The shop was without power for about 10 days and on Election Night someone who must have known the business was without its security cameras and alarm system broke in and stole several thousand dollars worth of hand tools, Brindle said. Items missing include a paint gun, socket wrenches and other equipment.
“Nothing like kicking you when you’re already down,” Brindle said. A police report has been filed.
Brindle plans to re-open part-time in about two weeks due to the gracious offer of a competitor, a former employee who now owns his own shop working out of his garage. Brindle will use his former employee’s garage for body work. The shop repairs four or five cars a week.
Meanwhile, even though the paint side of the business wasn’t damaged, the shop is storing tools and equipment related to the collision side of the business in the paint section; so that side of the business isn’t open either.
He’s not sure when his business will re-open full-time. He’s hoping it could be three or four weeks, depending on how rebuilding goes.
“It did not happen at a good time,” Brindle said. “We are in our busy season right now. We’re generally very busy with deer damage at this time of year. We have a very high population of deer in this area.”
Storm damage “is hurting us,” Brindle said. “But we have good insurance (Nationwide) and I believe they are going to stand behind us.”
As for community support, Brindle says it’s been awesome.
“Friends, family and neighbors came out the day after and helped get our roof covered, cut some trees out of the road so we could get our cars out of the driveway. One family even brought lunch for everyone. Then, as soon as everyone was finished, they all moved to the shop to start cleanup. Dave Miner from Dave’s Auto Salvage brought a big crane over and we used that to pick the roof trusses out of the building. And most of our customers are being very patient and waiting on us to reopen.”