When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and ran up the Gulf Coast in 2017, Houston resident and engineer Rahel Abraham was one of those whose lives were blown into disarray by wind and high water. Having the floodwaters total her 2008 Infiniti G35 was bad enough; the aftermath of trying to put life back together without a vehicle in a city that demands travel by car to do anything efficiently, was worse. It took weeks to begin getting insurance payouts, it took a month to get a rental car. Watching her neighbors also struggle try to get back on their feet without vehicles convinced Abraham to work on a way to protect cars in disastrous weather. The result is the ClimaGuard, a military-grade, waterproof, temporary protective enclosure.
When folded, ClimaGuard is a 30-pound plastic tarp that fits in a compact duffle bag. One person can get a vehicle secured inside in about ten minutes in a simple process much like putting on a car cover, except this one has a base that's zipped to the upper part of the cover at about the vehicle shoulder line. Welded seams keep water from entering below the zipper, and Abraham designed the enclosure so that the zipper sits well above the vehicle's water line. So long as the car isn't being tossed about by waves more than a foot high, water won't get in. Tossing about shouldn't be an issue, either, as ClimaGuard comes with anchoring straps to hold the vehicle. If the owner wants to move his car before the flood's receded, Abraham said the floating car can be pushed around with one hand.
Rahel brought engineering and business skills to the design task, hiring a Swiss firm to test prototypes and scouring facilities for material and production costs that could keep the ClimaGuard affordable. The enclosure comes in three sizes, compact sedan for $399, mid-size sedan for $449, and large and mid-size SUV for $479. That might not sound cheap, but the prices make the enclosure less expensive than the average $500 insurance deductible, and a no-brainer when counting the cost of time and expense in replacing a totaled vehicle.
Although designed for vehicles, the ClimaGuard will protect anything that can fit inside. Abraham told The Drive, "The compact car size could literally fit a living room ... You could put two couches in there, a table, you could stack it up because the compact car size is about 14 feet."
Lots of folks in Lousiana could have used ClimaGuard when Hurricane Ida made landfall there in August. The city made the extraordinary concession of letting residents park cars on raised street medians, nevertheless, CarFax estimated more than 200,000 vehicles were damaged as Ida whirled from Louisiana to New Jersey, Delaware, and New York City. These catastrophes affect everyone looking for a car no matter where they live by taking vehicles out of already-constrained inventories and bringing more buyers to the market, all of which raise prices, and eventually putting flood-damaged wares back into circulation. And with weather getting more strange and more unpredictable every year, we don't see the need for ClimaGuard's kind of flood protection diminishing any time soon.
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