The owners of more than 300 vehicles -- some considered total losses -- visited a parking lot at UCLA where many saw their vehicles for the first time since last week's flooding left them stranded in parking garages on the Westwood campus.
Around 900 cars were inside Parking Lot 4 and Parking Lot 7 at UCLA when a water main break last Tuesday sent about 20 million gallons of water onto the campus and surrounding area and shut down Sunset Boulevard for nearly six days. Most of the cars were dry, but about 400 were left in standing water – some completely submerged and considered a total loss.
“This is the largest gathering of flooded cars I have ever seen outside of a hurricane or something like that on the East Coast,” said Jeff Spring of the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Many of the owners, including UCLA students, faculty and staff members, who arrived to pick up their vehicles Tuesday expected the worst because the cars were among those parked in the heavily flooded lower levels of the parking stuctures. Mud was caked on their vehicles -- both inside and out.
Allison Hewitt, a staff member, said her car was in about 5 to 8 feet of water.
"So, I knew it was gone," Hewitt said as she looked at her Subaru, her baby's carseat still inside. "Somehow, it's harder seeing my baby's stuff."
Undamaged cars were available for pickup beginning Friday, but the most seriously damaged vehicles were taken to an area near Jackie Robinson Stadium on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus. Owners will be able to pick up their cars Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pick up will also be available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Most of the cars were too damaged to go home with their owners.
“It's our family car and we saved for a long time to be able to afford it,” said Ashley Wolf about her SUV. “It's a tough pill to swallow right now.”
Five insurance companies were on hand to help. But car owners needed comprehensive coverage on their vehicle in ordered to be covered. Otherwise, their best hope was to file a claim with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which has set up a claims process that is accessible online at www.Ladwp.Com/claims.
The UCLA website is continually being updated with the latest flood information and the university has also established an emergency loan-assistance program for employees and students whose cars were damaged in the flood. More information can be found here.