Snow yields body shop bumper crop

Police answered 32 calls for help after Tuesday's snowstorm

Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2001

This week's snowfall knocked out power, delayed school buses, and sent errant drivers into ditches and their cars to area auto body shops.

"We love the sound of squealing tires," said Ray Rusaw, a body man at SS Auto Body, named after owner Steve Scanlon. That's as long as no one gets hurt, he quickly added.

No one did get seriously hurt in a traffic accident Tuesday, said Capt. Tom Porter of the Juneau Police Department. Police responded to 32 calls for vehicle assistance Tuesday, including two that slid into the ditch and rolled over, and one man who ran out of gas, he said. A normal day consists of six to seven assist calls.

"It was an extremely busy day," Porter said. "Our guys were hopping like fleas in a hot skillet."

Gaining business from all the slipping and sliding were area auto body shops. While most shops were waiting for the dings and dents to show up, Bear Body Works was so busy staff didn't have time to be interviewed.

"I don't have a spare moment," shop estimator Brenda Cokeley said Tuesday. Monday and Tuesday had seen a huge influx of damaged vehicles, she said.

Bear is in the Industrial Way area behind Don Abel Building Supply, home to a half-dozen body shops.

Doug Maki, owner of Doug's Auto Body and Glacier Towing, spent part of Wednesday morning chasing down errant cars. His three tow trucks made about 25 calls in a day and a half. While body shops are always busy, Maki said, the difference in winter and after a storm is that the schedule gets longer.

Scanlon of SS Auto Body said the storm sent some new business to his shop.

"We've picked up four or five new jobs," he said.

That's pretty good, he said, considering that the shop has been open only since Dec. 1 and is located behind another building.

Bill Wildes, owner of Sam's Auto Body, expected to get six to eight repair jobs by Sunday.

People have to check with their insurance companies first, Wildes said - and get input from their friends.

Rusaw, with Scanlon's shop, said some drivers live with minor dings for a while and may even wait until summer before taking the car out of commission for repair. For something other than a small ding, it might be a case of nerves or anger.

"It takes about four days before a person calms down enough to get an estimate," Rusaw said.

Mike Hinman can be reached at

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