Mall officials closed the mall at noon on Wednesday after drainage problems caused flooding in the parking lot. Tow trucks worked quickly to move cars from the lot, but some cars were left and eventually became nearly submerged in water.
"When I came out here, my car was totally flooded. It wouldn't start," said shopper Crystal Piol, who lost her new car as well as a costly new baby seat and everything else inside.
Piol said she got little sympathy from mall management.
"They were just saying, 'It's your fault. You parked down here. You didn't hear us say get your car out?'" Piol said.
The mall used a public-address system to warn shoppers about the rising waters, but the system cannot be heard in individual stores.
Piol's mother, Sandra Quinones, said she believes Crabtree mall needs to do more.
"Apparently they knew water was coming up," Quinones said. "Why'd they let people park there? I don't understand."
But a mall representative told WRAL that the mall was closed before water got in the parking lot. She also said Wednesday's rainfall was an unusual event.
But it was by no means rare. The mall was also subjected to flooding in 1973, as well as in 1996 when Hurricane Fran hit the area.
Quinones said the flooding is a pattern to which the mall needs to pay attention.
"We only had 5 inches of rain," she said. "What's going to happen when there's a hurricane?"
As for taking care of all the flooded cars, the mall is handling them on a case-by-case basis, a representative said.
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