Manheim has closed its Puerto Rico facility and will close four of its Florida auctions on Friday ahead of Hurricane Irma's expected landfall in Florida over the weekend, according to the company.
Prior to the arrival of the Category 5 storm, Manheim plans to close locations in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Palm Beach, and Lakeland. Manheim Caribbean will be closed until further notice. The Fort Lauderdale location offers about 2,500 units for sale each week.
The company is encouraging clients to retrieve purchased vehicles, and will shift auction sales to digital platforms.
"During severe weather conditions such as Hurricane Irma, Manheim proactively plans and prepares to protect the safety of our team members, clients and locations," said Mark Ford, vice president for the Southeast. "This includes encouraging clients to retrieve their purchased vehicles at our locations prior to Friday to avoid any possible damage and moving physical sales to digital channels such as OVE (Online Vehicle Exchange) for safety reasons."
KAR Auction Services doesn't maintain any auction facilities in South Florida. It's southernmost ADESA location is in Sarasota. A spokesman from the South Florida Auto Auction of Fort Lauderdale said he was too busy to discuss any precautions.
Hurricane Irma battered Puerto Rico on Wednesday after striking the northern Lesser Antilles and Virgin Islands with 185-mile-per-hour winds. The storm is headed toward the Dominican Republic and Cuba. It's expected to reach the Florida Keys on Saturday, reports the Washington Post.
"We are proactively communicating with our clients about the status of our operations and their vehicles and are helping to direct them to other Manheim digital channels for their vehicle needs," said Tim Janego, vice president for Manheim's East region.
A week ago, Manheim closed three Houston-area auctions ahead of Hurricane Harvey.
Vehicles that have been sent to South Florida auctions will likely remain on lots through the weekend, and could suffer wind and water damage. When Irma swept through the U.S. Virgin Islands, vehicles were blown down streets and into buildings.
"We have to wait to see what kind of damage there is," said Toni Lee Sabatino, the office manager for Orlando-based consignor Courtney Leasing. "South Florida is going to get hit hard and they're going to have a lot of cleanup, as will a lot of other counties in the path of Irma. It could affect business for quite a while. It's just hard to tell with something like this.”