Fort Worth

The cost of hail: Car damage hits $300 million in Tarrant County

Brandon Jauernig, left, and Juvenal Hernandez of Auto Glass Center replace a windshield on a vehicle damaged by hail storm at MedStar's main office in west Fort Worth.
Brandon Jauernig, left, and Juvenal Hernandez of Auto Glass Center replace a windshield on a vehicle damaged by hail storm at MedStar's main office in west Fort Worth.

The hailstorms that rolled through the Tarrant County area Thursday morning could result in $300 million damage — and that’s just for vehicle repairs.

“This is a catastrophic event for us,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas.

Hanna estimated Friday that 50,000 vehicles were damaged by the stronger-than-expected storms, which pounded cars and busted windshields from Fort Worth to Arlington.

The hail fell in two bursts — about 4 a.m. and about 6:30 a.m. — and varied in size from blueberries to tennis balls. The largest hail fell in the second wave, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

The number of roofs damaged wasn’t available Friday afternoon. Hanna said it’s likely about one-third of the number of vehicles damaged. But with repairs costlier, roofs could double the price of the damage.

Two severe storms that included hail in 2012 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area caused $1.6 billion damage, Hanna said.

Thursday’s storms littered streets leaves and debris and damages some structures, including the Fort Worth Police Department’s West Division headquarters.

On Friday, workers were removing furniture and other damaged items before repairs could begin, said Cpl. Tracey Knight, a police spokeswoman. Employees were moved to other substations.

Fort Worth’s MedStar received damage to several ambulances, but they were back in operation by Thursday afternoon.

The damage provided an immediate boost to local businesses. By the end of Thursday, Auto Glass Now off Interstate 30 in west Fort Worth had given 144 estimates for broken windows.

“That’s about 124 more than we usually get,” employee Brett Merrell said.

At nearby Read’s Auto Collision, the lobby was “standing-room only” Thursday with customers waiting for estimates, Valerie Dennington said.

“Everybody’s scrambling to get estimates,” she said Friday morning.

Dennington said the length of time needed for repairs will depend on whether damage will require new parts. If parts have to be ordered, the repairs might take about two weeks.

Read’s is open Monday through Friday, but Dennington said the shop will likely be working the next few weekends.

AAA Glass will also be working this weekend, either on cars at its shop near TCU or replacing windows at homes.

“I had a mixed reaction, especially when my house was right in the middle of all that,” AAA owner Cliff Wright said. “My car and my wife’s car got slammed.”

The good news is that the severe weather didn’t linger.

A line of storms formed near the Red River on Friday but didn’t dip into Fort Worth.

A cold front did move through, dropping temperatures. Saturday morning’s low is expected to be 39, dropping to 36 on Sunday morning.

Sunny skies should return by Sunday, said Juan Hernandez, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

The weather service hadn’t finished its damage assessment Friday, Hernandez said, but “any hail that does develop in the 2-inch range is pretty severe.”

Hanna warned home and car owners about companies that build a “cottage industry” around chasing storm-damaged property.

“We’re simply asking these people to use a little bit of patience,” Hanna said. “Let the insurance adjuster to look at your car. If you get some out-of-state roofer up there, you don't know what's going to happen. … They’re there to get a little chunk of the money.”

Weekend forecast

Saturday: Low 39, high 59

Sunday: Low 36, High 59

Source: National Weather Service

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