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Clear Channel takes down billboards in path of Sandy

A tattered piece of billboard material blows in the wind ahead of Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Drivers along I-95 in Philadelphia can see something they don't usually see: A billboard sign with no billboard.

"It's like people tying up their boats in the harbors and people taping up their windows," says Clear Channel's Bryan Parker. According to Parker, when a hurricane hits, removing the sign is the best way to minimize damage: "When you remove the copy and the panel sections out of that frame -- sort of like taking a picture out of a frame -- the wind will blow through it and there won't be wind resistance to damage the sign structure."

Parker says new sign structures can run anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000. With that financial incentive and an interest in making sure no billboard falls on somebody's house -- Clear Channel crews have scrambled to take down more than 150 signs across the East Coast.

Parker says it's a pretty quick process, "We simply roll that up, or fold it up into a nice square and then we lash that onto the catwalks."

A quick look at images online shows that Sandy's chewed up a few billboards: A crunched, crumpled sign in Boston and another one shredded in Atlantic City.

Billboards -- of course -- exist to get as many eyeballs as possible. Parker says damaged signs are bad for business.

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.

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