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Specialists help with Phoenix hailstorm recovery

Desert’s Edge RV Village at Phoenix RV Park in Phoenix, Ariz., has already filled up for the winter season.

But snowbirds aren’t the only ones who are making the 213-site RV park their temporary home away from home. Joining them are more than 30 insurance adjusters and dent repair specialists. They’re helping local auto body shops repair an estimated 500,000 or more vehicles damaged by October hailstorms.

“They call us ‘The Hail Team,’” said Andrea Dearborn, a traveling dent repair specialist from West Virginia. “We travel all over the country and all over the world, wherever there is significant hail damage.”

This year, Dearborn has repaired hail-damaged vehicles in Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania, each time using her RV as her temporary home while she pounds out the dents in people’s vehicles.

Dearborn also traveled with other “Hail Team” members in recent years to Germany, Mexico and Greece, acting on leads from their network of insurance adjusters and weather reports.

“Hail Team” members typically partner with local auto body repair shops to help them keep up with the workload, though they will also rent out additional garages if they need more work space.

“We have our own tools, and we can literally set up shop in an afternoon,” said Neal Dimmit, a dent repair specialist from Palm Harbor, Fla., who travels from job to job with his wife and 120-pound Alaskan Husky.

With the downturn in the economy, some dent repair specialists have found they can supplement their local business income by taking their dent repair services on the road. That’s the approach favored by Kurt Weilbacher of Baton Rouge, La., who works with a partner to manage dent repair assignments in Baton Rouge and in Phoenix, while using their RV as their temporary home and office.

While America’s “hail season” typically runs from March to October, the early October storms created so much damage in the Phoenix Valley that the “Hail Team” expects to spend the next four to six months before their work is completed.

All of this is good news, of course, for Desert’s Edge RV Village Managing Partner Saundra Bryn, who noted that advance reservations for the upcoming winter season were already running ahead of last year’s figures.

Hail Team members, for their part, like staying in the comfort of their own RV while they do their work, and they like the friendly outdoor hospitality that campground owners provide.

“The people at Desert’s Edge are so nice and the park is so well taken care of,” Dimmit said.

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