Who pays for flood-damaged cars at St. Petersburg’s Vinoy hotel?

Pinellas County

St. Petersburg, FLA (WFLA) The rains came.  Cars, trucks and SUVs got flooded out.

So now, who pays? That’s the question on the minds of owners, facing severe damage or totaled vehicles in the valet parking garage of the Vinoy Renaissance in St. Petersburg.

A valet employee said around 30 vehicles had water inside. Many of those are toast. The garage will be ready to re-open soon.

It will be a lot longer for vehicles owners to be paid off.

Normally a busy parking garage, the valet area at the Vinoy is quiet, with a few flooded out cars remaining.

“The amount of water that came down was just phenomenal.  I have video of vehicles coming down the street and pulling into the parking deck for valet for the Vinoy, water coming up over the hood” said Rick Graham, who’s truck got swamped.

The hotel brought in pumps to remove the floodwater. The repair or replacement bill will be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“This is a case with a whole lot of legal issues,” said Attorney, Charles Gallagher.

He said many questions need to be answered. Like, did the hotel have adequate pumps in place ahead of time?

“You’re gonna have Vinoy probably say act of god. Probably have their valet company say act of god. But the issue is: do you have some advance knowledge of there being a flooding issue, flooding risk and being below the sea level?” said Gallagher.

The Vinoy General Manager put out a statement, saying, its valet partner and the hotel are working to accommodate guest’s needs and concerns.

“They’re not responsible for rain. The only issue that all of my people said to me, surely they must know that the water goes down hill into that underground parking” said Keith Ashby who heads up a group in town for a conference.

The vehicle owners could end up picking up the tab. Fair or unfair.

“Now, definitely, default provisions probably gonna be the car policies that each one of the owners has,” said Charles Gallagher.

Despite the inconvenience and the monetary losses, some can still find a little humor. “We were supposed to go fishing today. So, obviously, we’re not going to go fishing.  We’re fishing for our truck right now” said Rick Graham.

At the height of the Thursday storm, 3.6 inches of rain fell in this area, in just one hour.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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