Waffle House is known for staying open during some of the worst natural disasters, but Hurricane Michael managed to shut down 30 restaurants as of Wednesday evening.
Waffle House spokesman Pat Warner told USA TODAY that the closed restaurants were spread across two states, with 22 being closed in Florida and 8 in Georgia.
Warner said that Waffle House had not been able to check the damage at its locations yet but planned to do so early Thursday. The company would then develop a reopening plan, he said in an email.
At least one location sustained significant damage in the storm, according to a WJAX-TV report Wednesday. A billboard fell on a Panama City location, causing significant damage to the building, the station reported.
Video from the scene showed dangling light fixtures, shattered windows and debris strewn throughout the restaurant.
Michael smashed into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricanewith maximum sustained winds of 155 mph at landfall — just two miles shy of a Category 5.
The Waffle House Storm Center, a team that mobilizes during extreme weather, has been monitoring the storm’s path since Monday.
“The Waffle House test just doesn’t tell us how quickly a business might rebound — it also tells how the larger community is faring,” a FEMA blog post from 2011 states. “The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores or banks can reopen, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again — signaling a strong recovery for that community.”