Not surprisingly, Houston-Galveston area auto sales stalled in August at the height of Hurricane Harvey flooding, dragging third-quarter total vehicle sales down by 8.8 percent.

Regional auto dealers reported total third-quarter sales of 67,280 units, compared with 73,744 a year ago, according to the Houston Automobile Dealers Association. Total sales include retail and fleet sales.

Retail sales were down 10 percent in the third quarter at 57,800 units, compared with 64,204 units the year before.

The association, which includes Galveston County in its data tracking, reports auto sales began recovering in September on a combination of sales deferred from August and sales replacing flood-damaged vehicles.

Of an estimated 300,000 vehicles totaled by Harvey flooding, about 75,500 will be replaced by purchase of new vehicles, the association predicts. The association estimates that 70,000 remain to be purchased through January, which could push total 2017 sales to as high as 335,000 units. The association also predicts a surge in the sale of used vehicles.

Shifting gears: Meanwhile, three months after Hurricane Harvey, McRee Ford, among the county car dealerships hardest hit during Harvey, continues to work on recovery. McRee Ford’s newly built 85,000-square-foot dealership at 2800 Interstate 45 in Dickinson sustained about $35 million in damage from the storm, said Mitchell Dale, whose family owns the 70-year-old business.

“We are moving forward,” Dale said. “It has been very challenging. Although new vehicle sales have been very good as a result of all the flooded cars, we struggled with all but 15 vehicles totaled at the store and no inventory,” Dale said.

Still, Ford Motor Co. helped McRee acquire new inventory.

“We purchased new units from other Ford dealers from California to Michigan to Florida,” Dale said. “Rebuilding our pre-owned inventory has been the biggest challenge with so many customers’ units totaled.”

But McRee does have a good amount of fresh inventory — both new and pre-owned — and sales continue at a brisk pace, Dale said.

“We are serving our Quick Lane customers through the main service drive and our Collision Center is accepting new jobs as we complete the construction of the offices,” Dale said. “I am very proud of our team and how they have pulled together to make things happen.”

Back on track? The developer isn’t returning calls, but there are signs of life at the Adventure Pointe theme park underway on 25 acres fronting Interstate 45, south of Tanger Outlets in Texas City. At least on social media, anyway.

On Oct. 19, Adventure Pointe posted this:

“We know that it has been a while since our last post and are aware that the past seven weeks have been extremely difficult as many of you may still be dealing with the severe impact of Hurricane Harvey. Our adventure seeking hearts go out to everyone affected and hope everyone is recovering well.”

Adventure Pointe also posted this message in reference to the slow-going of the project:

“Adventures do occur, but not punctually, or as planned especially when it involves construction.”

Area residents have been waiting for the theme park ever since Dr. Harvey Slusky, the developer, in March 2013 announced plans for the venture. Texas City officials on Feb. 10 issued the necessary permits for construction of key buildings at the theme park, but readers are inquiring about slow construction.

The park’s main historical reference will be a collection of trains that belonged to Slusky’s father, Louis Slusky, who operated Playland Park in Houston from the late 1940s to 1969, and in Galveston from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. Stay tuned.

Barbecue bummer: Area residents were a little surprised by the closure of JT’s Smokehouse, 3612 W. Main St., in League City. James Theriot and his wife, Carol, officially opened JT’s Smokehouse on June 15. The restaurant generated buzz for its brisket. But the Theriots have decided to focus on catering.

“With heavy heart, I’m very sad to announce that JT’s Smokehouse will be closed,” the Theriots posted on Facebook on Nov. 13. “I want to thank all our family and friends, guests and employees. We had a great time and enjoyed serving you like you were our family. We will be still doing catering, I’m here for your catering needs.”

Wing wait is over: A popular purveyor of wings has finally opened its Webster eatery in Bayway Village II Shopping Center, 20821 I-45. Pluckers Wing Bar opened its newest restaurant Tuesday, marking the Austin-based chain’s third in the Houston area.

Pluckers is known for spicy hot wings, cold beer and plenty of TVs tuned to sports.

The concept was conceived by college students, who, after a long night on Austin’s Sixth Street, had the munchies for chicken wings, but were shocked to find none in the city. A business idea was born and, upon graduation, the students opened the first Pluckers in the summer of 1995.

Laura Elder: 409-683-5248; laura.elder@galvnews.com

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