Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nashville car rental agencies 'sold out' after flood

Finding a rental car anywhere in Nashville on Wednesday was nearly impossible, because most rental agencies had to turn away customers after a barrage of business from residents whose cars were lost or damaged by floodwaters.
"We have none today, but we expect to have some Friday," said Chris Wroblewski at the Thrifty Car Rental agency at Nashville International Airport. "But it's hard to find a car without a reservation."

Enterprise Rent-A-Car showed on its website Wednesday that all 12 of its Nashville-area locations were "sold out." But spokesman Ned Maniscalco in St. Louis said his follow-up check found a few vehicles available.

"We have been challenged because not only do we have customers who lost cars in the flood, but some of our locations lost vehicles, too," he said.

RelatedNashville Flood 2010Aerial photos of damage - May 11Complete coverage of Nashville floodingFlood of 2010 resource guide

Several major rental agencies have been sending some customers to the locally based Tennessee Car and Van Rental, but regional manager Bill Bevans said he had to put customers in vans because he was out of cars.

"I've had Enterprise call me, and Hertz and Avis are sending people here, too," Bevans said. "When they're sending them to us, there are no cars in Nashville. We're out of cars, too. I had a man come in today and rent a 12-passenger van just so he could get around town."

It also has been difficult for travelers arriving at the airport without reservations. Usually, except in the summer months, reservations are not needed at the airport, unless there is some special event going on, but the flood has changed that for the time being, rental agents said.

Even the used-car rental business has been super busy, said B&C Rentals in Donelson, where manager Karen Scherer reported "nothing available" Wednesday.

"Everything has been fully booked since last week because of the flood, and we're not even getting business from the insurance companies," she said.

Formerly a Rent-A-Wreck franchise, B&C also rents Budget trucks and Cruise America recreational vehicles.

"The Budget truck business is very good, especially since two other locations, in Nashville and Franklin, were underwater and lost most of their trucks," she said. "People are renting ours to haul off trash from flooded homes and businesses."

Some customers want to rent RVs to live in while their homes are under repair.

But Scherer said B&C has had to turn a lot of those people away.

"We can't do long-term rentals because we're booked up for Bonnaroo," she said, referring to the music festival set for June near Manchester. "All of our RVs have been reserved for that event since last summer."

A search of the Travelocity website found only cars from Hertz available Wednesday afternoon.

The website, which books rentals at discount rates through all of the major companies, showed no cars for Wednesday or today in Nashville.

Reservations were available for Friday, though.

Contact Tennessean business writer G. Chambers Williams III at 615-259-8076 or

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