Many rental car facilities in the New Orleans area are damaged, under water or closed after Hurricane Katrina.
As of mid-September, Enterprise Rent-A-Car said 24 of its facilities are severely damaged or under water, and two in Gulfport and Bay St. Louis, Miss., were destroyed. About 45 Enterprise facilities in the New Orleans area were open at that time. All seven Hertz locations in New Orleans were closed. Other September reports said that none of the 12 Avis and Budget car rental facilities in the metropolitan New Orleans area were operating. Thrifty Car Rental’s operation in Biloxi, Miss., was destroyed and its facility at Gulfport airport was closed.
Up to 100 vehicles - about 5% of Hertz’s fleet in New Orleans - were unaccounted for by the middle of last month. About 90% of Hertz’s fleet in the greater New Orleans area was rented by people who wanted to drive away to escape the Hurricane. Car rental companies have had to cope with numerous vehicles being returned far away from where they were rented. Hurricane Katrina left many rental companies with vacant lots scrambling to buy or borrow vehicles from sister locations throughout the country. Car rental companies have been trucking in thousands of vehicles, trying to keep up with the government and relief agencies and insurance companies that are renting them for a month at a time. Enterprise Rent-A-Car planned to have at least 11,000 vehicles by early October in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. About half were to go to Baton Rouge and Lafayette, cities housing relief workers. By the end of September, Hertz expected to have more than 1,000 vehicles to Baton Rouge.