The motorhome rental industry is getting a pull from hurricanes Katrina and Rita as major corporations rush in rigs from as far away as Alaska, Canada and New York to use as emergency worker housing, according to a report in USA Today.
They join trailers and other vehicles helping to alleviate the corporate housing shortage along the Gulf Coast for both evacuees and companies dealing with the catastrophes.
“It’s an ocean of good news for every aspect of this industry,” says Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of RV Business.
Some of the RV businesses shipping motorhomes include:
• ABC Motorhome & Car Rentals in Anchorage, Alaska, sent 62 rigs to the Gulf Coast, owner John Marquardt says. The company is readying another 140 motorhomes. Some ABC motor homes sent south were stocked with donated relief supplies.
• Nolan’s RV and Marine in Denver, Colo., rented 15 motorhomes to the government, news media and clean-up companies, “because there’s nothing (else) available from 1,200 miles away,” rental manager Ben Angel says. The company cut its rates to companies involved in the disaster: $135 a day instead of the usual $175.
• Rental company El Monte RV in Orlando, Fla., is using Orlando and Dallas as sites to feed motorhomes into the Gulf Coast as needed. The rigs are moved to the two sites from around the nation, Senior Vice President Tucker Schork says. So far, it has about 300 motorhomes on the scene.
• Rental firm Cruise America has moved motorhomes to the Gulf from as far as Long Island and Las Vegas. About 400 motorhomes were rented for use in the Gulf region. Forty were driven in for free to Lafayette, La., and Montgomery, Ala, to shelter evacuees.
Some motorhomes rent for as little as $110 a day. But getting them to the Gulf Coast can be expensive. El Monte RV says it costs $1,000 to drive in a rig from Florida, $2,000 from California.
Walgreens, the 4,953-store drugstore chain, rented more than 50 motorhomes for Katrina and might add more because of Rita, spokeswoman Carol Hively says.
Two vehicles are parked next to one of the chain’s stores in Baton Rouge. One is from Arizona and the other is from Canada. They house four employees brought in to care for the prescription needs of New Orleans evacuees.
“It helps the stores,” assistant manager Simon Reems says.
CNN rented about 20 motorhomes as soon as the disaster struck, as it became “obvious there was no place to stay,” says Jane Maxwell, a senior vice president, noting the accommodations are “very livable.”