FORT MYERS, Fla. – As residents of Southwest Florida begin assessing the damage left behind by Hurricane Ian, car rental companies are preparing for a spike in demand.
Ian crashed into the Fort Myers area Sept. 28 as a Category 4 hurricane with 150-mph winds. The terrible winds pushed ashore feet of water from the Gulf of Mexico that tore through homes and businesses along the shore and on barrier islands. The storm moved diagonally across the state the following day, dumping more than a foot of rain and flooding interior parts of the Florida Peninsula.
Nearly a week after Ian, residents are returning to some decimated coastal towns to see first-hand the destruction to their property.
Car rental companies will soon be flooded by these storm survivors seeking temporary transpiration while they work to restore the vehicles they lost.
Hertz, which is based in Estero, Florida, between Fort Myers and Naples on the Southwest Florida coast, is also the parent company of Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly car rental companies.
Lauren Luster, a spokeswoman for Hertz, said the company was preparing for increased rental car needs after Ian before the storm hit.
"To ensure the widest availability of vehicles, we moved cars to higher ground before the storm, and are moving vehicles in from other areas across the state to support Southwest Florida’s transportation needs," Luster said.
A spokesperson for Sixt, another popular rental car company in the region, said the company expects the highest demand to be in the Fort Myers and Naples areas. The company’s rental counter at the Fort Myers airport is scheduled to reopen Wednesday.
"While anticipating hurricane courses can be a difficult task, we want to be there for the community and will work to make vehicles available as the area recovers," the spokesperson said.
Sixt is offering a "Florida Recovery special promotion" that allows customers to rent for a month or longer at a discounted rate, according to the spokesperson. More information can be found at sixt.com/floridarecovery.
In a statement, Enterprise Holdings, which is the parent company of Enterprise, Alamo and National car rental companies, said the company is working with officials and insurance companies to determine the most immediate transportation needs in the disaster zone.
"In emergency situations like this, when thousands of vehicles could be damaged, Enterprise Holdings is prepared to respond and move vehicles from our network of locations into affected areas as quickly as possible," the company's statement read, in part.
Depending on the policy, the costs associated with a post-storm vehicle rental are covered by insurance. Check with your insurance carrier for more information.