It’s been a long, stressful time since the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene brought flood waters from the Indian River into Zappone Chrysler Jeep Dodge.
However, all of that comes to an end Friday when 55 days after the car dealership was inundated by water it reopens as good as new – actually better.
“We’ll be good to go by Friday,” Matt Zappone said Monday morning as workers continued putting finishing touches on the new showroom space.
Zappone said his phone had been ringing non stop with calls from customers waiting for the dealership to reopen. Some call interested in buying a car and many call awaiting the return of the service center they count on and trust.
“Friday we’ll be ready for everything. I’m sure there’ll be some glitches, but nothing we can’t deal with,” Zappone said.
The current inventory of 75 cars is expected to surge by another 20 vehicles in time for the invoice sale planned to start things off right. “It will be good to just get back to selling some cars,” Zappone said.
No delays are expected with sales and those who buy Friday should be able to drive it off the lot that day.
Asked what it means to him to reopen the doors after the Herculean effort which went into restoring the dealership, Zappone had to search for the words. “It’s…a relief to be finally back to our normal lives,” he said.
Employees got to work within a day of the storm and have worked, up until the past two weeks or so, seven days a week to get ready to open the doors. Once the adrenalin from the initial event wore off, Zappone said it was difficult to keep up the seven day grind, but now that the goal is in sight that boost has returned.
“This is the result of a lot of hard work from a lot of people, it’s hard to put into words how good it feels,” Zappone said. “I can’t thank the people who’ve worked here enough -without the employees we’d be another 55 days, at least.
When faced with the damage from the flood waters that put several feet of water up and over the inventory and inundated the building, the Zappones said after they started looking around they decided they’d use the damage as an opportunity to change a few things.
The entire stock of 130 cars, trucks and SUVs – 95 of them new – was destroyed and all the vehicles were be picked up and taken away by the Chrysler Corp.
Zappone said the ambitious rebuilding project missed the initial reopening date chiefly because they never revised the date set following the storm after deciding to go the extra mile.
Customers returning to the showroom will immediately notice the higher ceilings and the rearranged, larger floor area including a new door for putting new cars into the new showroom.
In addition to the new offices and service area, the service bays are refurbished and most noticeable of all the dealership has a new front facing Route 22. That new front with the sign might not be finished in time for the opening, Zappone said.
Just north on Route 22 crews were hard at work inside the Granville McDonald’s. Workers at the site confirmed they were on schedule for the reopening date put forth by the store’s owner Charlie Coughlin.
Although he owns 18 McDonalds around the region, Coughlin said Granville was the only one damaged during the storm and in the process of rebuilding.
If materials arrive on time and the work goes according to schedule, Coughlin said he expects the store to reopen around Oct. 27 as good as new; customers “won’t see any difference” in their experience, he said.