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Florida in shutdown mode for Hurricane Matthew

Trees sway from heavy rain and wind from Hurricane Matthew in front of Exploration Tower early Friday in Cape Canaveral.
Trees sway from heavy rain and wind from Hurricane Matthew in front of Exploration Tower early Friday in Cape Canaveral. AP

Hurricane Matthew managed to do what no event since Sept. 11, 2001, has been able to accomplish: a near-total shutdown across the state of Florida.

And the lingering economic effects could be massive – Florida has an almost $3 billion a day economy.

From theme parks to airports and state offices, the effects of the storm’s approach were swift and wide-ranging.

Even Disney announced it would close early Thursday and remain shuttered through Friday, marking only the fourth time the resort has closed.

Earlier Thursday, other theme parks paved the way before Disney shut its gates.

Universal Orlando, Legoland Florida and SeaWorld all said they would be closed Friday as Central Florida braced for Matthew’s wrath.

The scope of the storm led to thousands of flight cancellations nationwide, as airlines including American, Frontier and Allegiant announced they would not fly into or out of many Florida airports until the storm had passed, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

“Our team of meteorologists continue to closely monitor the track of the hurricane,” American Airlines said in a news release. “The resumption of airport operations will be dependent on weather conditions at the airport, public transit and roadways.”

Most airlines issued travel waivers, reducing or removing rebooking and cancellation fees for flights into and out of airports in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Interstate bus line Greyhound canceled service along some routes into Florida.

On the retail side, hundreds of stores across the state closed early Thursday, with plans to open late Friday or early Saturday.

Many restaurants also shut their doors for the storm, although some chose to stay open, with E.R. Bradley’s Saloon in downtown West Palm Beach calling itself “The Official Hurricane Landfall Headquarters.”

“This is how we’ve always done it,” Nick Coniglio, whose family owns Bradley’s, told The Palm Beach Post on Wednesday. “We stay open and service the downtown area. We become a hub to commiserate and celebrate and just gather.”

Amtrak also suspended its service throughout the Southeast, canceling two routes into Miami and one to Sanford through Saturday.

The storm also affected freight movement through the state, as CSX and Florida East Coast Railway halted trains.

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