The deadly, once-in-a-generation winter storm that left millions without power in Texas had car rental companies scrambling to maintain operations and get customers safely on their ways.
According to Marcus Echtler, Sixt’s regional VP for Texas, Sixt’s DFW (Dallas/Fort. Worth) location was unaffected and IAH (Houston) saw a slight slowdown, though SAT (San Antonio) was heavily impacted by the storm, mostly by loss of power and water.
“The local hero at SAT was our branch manager Cody B., who actually spent two nights at the branch because the roads were frozen over and the local hotels were without power,” Echtler wrote. “He wanted to make sure someone from Sixt was going to be able to be on site at all times for customers.”
Due to Cody’s efforts, Sixt was able to rent vehicles to stranded customers during and after hours and was able to reunite them with their loved ones in other cities, Echtler wrote.
At Airport Van Rentals (AVR), IAH was without power from Sunday night until early Friday, Feb. 19, according to Andrew Love, AVR’s director of operations. Due to the airport closure and winter driving conditions, AVR closed reservations from new bookings for three days. During this time, Love wrote the branch’s general manager used a vehicle’s heat and power as an “office.”
The IAH branch opened back up fully on Friday with no new power outages.
AVR’s DFW location also experienced a power outage in addition to a burst pipe. Water was turned off at the mains to avoid flood damage. The pipe was expected to be repaired over the weekend.
The general manager and his team dug out the snow and ice on the lot and driveway with shovels, despite the lack of availability of salt at Home Depot and other stores. Culligan Water Treatment was ultimately able to provide the branch enough salt to de-ice, Love said. All returning customers were directed to AVR’s afterhours parking facility where they could safely use the shuttle services free of charge.
“Agents were assisting customers at the front counter despite having no power or water for two days at their homes,” Love wrote.
Power returned on Thursday evening and the branch was fully up and running on Friday. “Both teams are looking forward to some weekend sun to dry out!” Love wrote.