Although South Florida was spared the brunt of the storm, the area’s travel industry reported some of the largest losses. Hoteliers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties lost more than $24 million in room revenue as a result of Matthew, according to STR’s report.
The storm cost Orlando-area hotels $14.5 million, STR said.
In all, hotels in the five states impacted by Hurricane Matthew lost a total of $50 million in revenue as the storm made its way north along the east coast of the country.
“When looking at the net impact on hotel demand and rates, the story was very similar to what we saw when Hurricane Sandy hit in late 2012,” said Steve Hennis, STR’s Vice President of consulting and analytics. “Unfortunately, the overall loss will be higher once you factor in future lost business as a result of the extensive damage and renovations that many hotels will require prior to reopening.”
Since the worst of Hurricane Matthew’s winds stayed off Palm Beach County’s coast, local hoteliers were back up and running very quickly, said Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches, the official tourism marketing corporation for Palm Beach County.
“The Palm Beaches were incredibly fortunate to experience no significant damage or incidents following Hurricane Matthew, which allowed for our tourism community to return to regular business operations within hours of the storm passing,” Pesquera said. “Although STR reports a possible downturn in hotel occupancy due to the storm, our forecasts project a positive picture in overall business and sold room nights by the end of this year.”
“There also were many submarkets that saw positive gains as hotels catered to evacuees, stranded visitors, emergency management personnel and the media,” Hennis said.
Hoteliers in the Tampa/St. Petesburg area saw a double-digit rise in revenueperavailable hotel room — a key benchmark for the tourism industry — during week of Oct. 2 as Matthew moved closer to the state.
Tampa-area hotels saw an 18.4 percent jump in revenue per available room that week, making them among the highest performing in the nation, according to STR.
The benchmark, which gives an average of what visitors pay based on number of rooms available, is used by local hoteliers to evaluate the state of the tourism industry.
Hurricane Matthew is the latest in a string of bad news for Florida’s tourism industry.
In June, a gay nightclub in Orlando, the state’s top travel hub, was the scene of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The following week, an alligator killed a toddler at the Walt Disney World resort.
Then a massive algae bloom stunk up waterways and beaches in Martin County. A Zika outbreak in Miami-Dade County also threatened in the industry. And Hurricane Hermine whipped through the state’s panhandle region the first week of September.
Still, the state’s tourism industry has shown resiliency. Despite the negative publicity, the state is on pace to beat last year’s record of 105 million visitors.
Tampa-area hotels saw an 18.4 percent jump in revenue per available room last week, STR said. The benchmark, which gives an average of what visitors pay based on number of rooms available, is used by local hoteliers to evaluate the state of the tourism industry.
Tampa/St. Petersburg hotels also reported the largest increase in hotel room occupancy levels, STR said. Hotel occupancy in the area hit 94.8 percent on Thursday night as Matthew made its was past South Florida, up 30.8 percent over the same day last year, according to Jan Freitag STR’s Senior Vice President, Lodging Insights.
Meanwhile, Miami area hotels saw room revenues and occupancy levels plummet as the hurricane bore down.
The Miami/Hialeah area was one of only four markets in the country that saw a double-digit drop in revenue per available room. The revenue benchmark fell by 23.3 percent during the week of Oct. 2, according to STR.
The Miami/Hialeah area was one of two markets that reported a double-digit decline in occupancy levels. Occupancy feel to 59.5 percent last week, a 15.8 percent drop over the same time period last year, STR said.
The issue first was given Wednesday to suspend tolls on State Road 528, the Beachline, to assist with Brevard County’s mandatory evacuation. That highway saw delays Wednesday and Thursday as thousands of people left their homes and headed inland.
Later Wednesday, Scott expanded his order to included all toll roads in Florida. Tolls continued to be free until Sunday night.
Disney announced Thursday it would close its parks for just the fourth time in the resort’s history. The first three times also were for hurricanes: Sept. 15, 1999, for Floyd; Sept. 4-5, 2004, for Frances; and Sept. 26, 2004, Jeanne.
Here’s a wrapup of which parks are closing:
Disney’s theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs, miniature golf courses and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will close by 5 p.m. today and will stay closed Friday. Disney also canceled Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for Thursday.
The Grand Celebration cruise ship, which sails out of the Port of Palm Beach, had to receive Coast Guard approval to drop off its load of passengers Wednesday morning after the Coast Guard set the Palm Beach port’s condition to Yankee at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Port of Palm Beach spokeswoman Tara Monks said there were about 500 passengers on board the ship.
“If (the ship) had happened to ask to stay, it would be up to the Coast Guard,” Monks said.
Cruise ships along Florida’s east coast are facing the same dilemma, AAA said, of whether to head out to calm seas or find a different port.
“Cruise line officials have already adjusted itineraries to avoid island-destinations impacted by the hurricane, but these port closures makes returning home very tricky,” AAA director of field travel support Vicky Evans said in a news release.
Cruise lines affected by Matthew include Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney, MSC, Norwegian and Princess, AAA said.
Three ships scheduled to return to port Thursday now will return Friday: the Empress of the Seas and Carnival Sensation, out of Port Miami; and the Carnival Victory out of Port Canaveral.
Evans advises travelers to reach out to their cruise lines to see if their trips will be affected by the storm.
FEC service will be closed tomorrow and could reopen either late Friday or Saturday, but much of that depends upon the extent of damage along FEC’s line.
Ledoux said about 100 FEC employees are staged to mobilize once the storm has passed. They’ll work in smaller crews, covering about 60 miles of track each to find and fix any damage.
The first service once the FEC line reopens will be northbound out of Miami, as Matthew is expected to move north along Florida’s coastline.
FEC also is watching storm forecasts closely to determine if and when signal arms may need to be removed. The arms will be removed once forecasts indicate an area is supposed to receive 80 mph sustained winds, Ledoux said.
CSX leaders have been monitoring Matthew and have activated the company’s Hurricane Operations Plan, a spokesperson said Wednesday.
The freight company has suspended its operations along its main line between Savannah, Ga., and Pembroke, N.C., starting today, the spokesperson said. CSX service in South Florida was suspended this morning until further notice.
The company is working with its customers to reroute freight traffic or make other arrangements as necessary as delays are expected in the Southeast, the spokesperson added.
“Safety is Brightline’s number one priority,” Brightline said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring the hurricane and have implemented the necessary safety precautions required for all active construction sites.”
As Floridians prepare for possible mandatory evacuation orders for Hurricane Matthew, one question may come to mind: Will you have to pay tolls on Florida’s Turnpike before, during and after the storm?
Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that he has authorized the Florida Department of Transportation to suspend tolls in counties where there are evacuation orders issued.
“Protecting life and moving people to safety remains our top priority and today I directed the Florida Department of Transportation to suspend tolls as needed to keep traffic flowing,” Scott said in a news release. “If there is an evacuation order in a county, all tolls will be suspended in that county.”
The Florida Department of Transportation is keeping track of traffic counters in South and Central Florida as it prepares for the storm’s effects, Scott’s office said.
Here’s more from the governor’s office on the latest efforts to prepare roads for Hurricane Matthew:
• FDOT construction: All state projects on interstates, limited-access facilities, coastal and evacuation routes have been stopped. Contractors are securing equipment and removing all unnecessary barricades, signs and drums.
• Flooding: FDOT is monitoring flood-prone areas and will work with county emergency operations centers to coordinate any necessary response.
• Intracoastal bridges: In Palm Beach County, they will be locked down by 8 p.m. Wednesday. During lock-down, the bridge is closed, power turned off and the traffic arms may be removed.
A travel waiver typically allows passengers to change their flights with little to no penalty. The waiver offered varies depending on the airline. For information regarding a specific flight, contact your airline.
Here’s the list of travel waivers in effect. This list will be updated as more waivers are announced.
Waiver benefits: No change fee for eligible flights.
Where the waiver is in effect: Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Key West, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach.
You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 4; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 5-7; you can travel Oct. 5-12; and you don’t change your origin or destination.
Where the waiver is in effect: Augusta and Savannah, Ga.; Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh/Durham, Richlands and Wilmington, N.C.; Columbia, Charleston, Florence, Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 4; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 5-9; you can travel Oct. 5-14; and you don’t change your origin or destination.
Where the waiver is in effect: Cienfuegos, Cuba; Holguín, Cuba; Santa Clara, Cuba; Cap-Haïtien, Haiti; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Kingston, Jamaica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.
You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 1; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 1-6; you can travel Sept. 3o – Oct. 9; and you don’t change your origin or destination.
Where the waiver is in effect: Eleuthera, Exuma, Freeport / Grand Bahama, Marsh Harbour and Nassau.
You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Sept. 30; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 2-7; you can travel Sept. 30-Oct. 11; and you don’t change your origin or destination.
Waiver benefits: Receive one itinerary change; rules and restrictions regarding standard change fees, advance purchase, day or time applications, blackouts, and minimum or maximum stay requirements will be waived. Also, travellers on eligible flights may request a refund.
Where the waiver is in effect: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and St. Augustine.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were originally scheduled to fly Oct. 5-8 and purchased your ticket on or before Oct. 4. Travel on rescheduled flight must be completed by Oct. 29.
Waiver benefits: No change/cancel fees and waived fare differences for eligible flights.
Where the waiver is in effect: Charleston, S.C.; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Savannah/Hilton Head, Ga.; and Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 5-9 and booked your flight on or before Oct. 4. You may rebook from now through Oct. 18, before your originally scheduled flight was set to depart.
Where the waiver is in effect: Kingston, Jamaica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Nassau, Bahamas; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Santa Clara, Cuba.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 2-6 and booked your flight on or before Sept. 30. You may rebook from now through Oct. 10, before your originally scheduled flight was set to depart.
Waiver benefits: No additional charge for rebooking for eligible flights.
Where the waiver is in effect: Charleston, S.C.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 4-8 and rebook in the same class as originally scheduled within 14 days of the original date of travel between the same originating city and destination.
Where the waiver is in effect: Montego Bay and Nassau.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Sept. 30-Oct. 5 for Montego Bay and Oct. 2-7 for Nassau, and rebook in the same class as originally scheduled within 14 days of the original date of travel between the same originating city and destination.
Waiver benefits: No modification charge/fare difference for eligible flights.
Where the waiver is in effect: Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 6-7, and rebook your flight before Oct. 14. After Oct. 14, the modification charge still will be waived, but a fare difference will apply.
Where the waiver is in effect: Myrtle Beach, S.C.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 7-8, and rebook your flight before Oct. 14. After Oct. 14, the modification charge still will be waived, but a fare difference will apply.
The airline has canceled a slew of flights into and out of Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Sanford. Those flights will be rescheduled, and passengers on the affected flights will be contacted via email, Allegiant said. Check here for updates.
Publix alone has about 70 stores with generators in Palm Beach County, according to a list maintained by the county.
Use the interactive map below to find a grocery or home improvement store near you with a generator. On a phone: Pinch to zoom, swipe to move and tap on an icon to get more information about the store. (Map not working for you? Scroll down for a list of stores.)
Here is the list of Palm Beach County Publix, Lowe’s and Home Depot stores that have generators.
Publix (List order: from north to south)
• Countyline Plaza, 500 North U.S. Highway 1, Tequesta, 33469
• Chasewood Plaza, 6330 W Indiantown Road, Jupiter, 33458
• Abacoa Plaza, 5500 Military Trail, Jupiter, 33458
• Bluff’s Square Shopping Center, 4060 South U.S. Highway 1, Jupiter, 33477
• Jupiter Square Shopping Center, 95 U.S. Highway 1, Jupiter, 33477
• Jupiter Farms Village, 10142 Indiantown Road, Jupiter, 33478
• Sea Plum Town Center, 123 Honeybell Way, Jupiter, 33458
• The Shoppes of Jonathan’s Landing, 17400 Alternate A1A, Jupiter, 33477
• Mirasol Walk, 6251 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, 33418
• Oakbrook Square Shopping Center, 11566 North U.S. Highway 1, Palm Beach Gardens, 33408
• Garden Square, 10913 North Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens, 33418
• Promenade Shopping Plaza, 9900 Alternate A1A, Palm Beach Gardens, 33410
• Gardens Town Square, 4200 Northlake Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, 33410
• Legacy Place Shopping Center, 11231 Legacy Avenue, Palm Beach Gardens, 33410
• Frenchman’s Crossing, Hood Road & Alternate A1A, Palm Beach Gardens, 33410
• Northlake Promenade Shoppes, 374 Northlake Boulevard, Lake Park, 33408
• Publix at Riviera Beach, Blue Heron Boulevard and Lake Shore Drive, Riviera Beach, 33404
• Publix on Palm Beach, 265 Sunset Avenue, Palm Beach, 33480
• Southdale Shopping Center, 828 Southern Boulevard, West Palm Beach, 33405
• Village Commons Shopping Center, 831 Village Boulevard, West Palm Beach, 33409
• Crosstown Plaza, 2895 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, 33409
• Shoppes at Ibis, 10130 Northlake Boulevard, West Palm Beach, 33412
• Shoppes at Andros Isle, 8989 Okeechobee Boulevard, West Palm Beach, 33411
• Paradise Place, 4075 North Haverhill Road, West Palm Beach, 33417
• Palm Beach Plaza, 6820 Okeechobee Boulevard, West Palm Beach, 33411
• Polo Grounds Mall, 890 South Military Trail, West Palm Beach, 33415
• Crestwood Square, 11977 Southern Boulevard, Royal Palm Beach, 33411
• The Crossroads at Royal Palm Beach, 1180 Royal Palm Beach Boulevard, Royal Palm Beach, 33411
• Publix at the Acreage, 7050 Seminole Pratt Whitney Road, Loxahatchee, 33470
• Courtyard Shops at Wellington, 13880 Wellington Trace, Wellington, 33414
• The Groves at Royal Palm, 127 South State Road 7, Wellington, 33414
• Town Square at Wellington, 11950 West Forest Hill Boulevard, Wellington, 33414
• Riverbridge Centre, 6790 Forest Hill Boulevard, Greenacres, 33413
• Publix Atlantis, 4849 South Military Trail, Greenacres, 33463
• Greenwood Shopping Center, 1700 South Congress Avenue, Palm Springs, 33461
• Nassau Square, 7745 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, 33463
• Town Commons, 8899 Hypoluxo Road, Lake Worth, 33467
• Woods Walk Plaza, 9855 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, 33467
• Lantana Plaza Shopping Center, 5970 South Jog Road, Lake Worth, 33467
• Publix at Lake Worth, Dixie Highway and North 2nd Avenue, Lake Worth, 33460
• Lantana Shopping Center, 1589 W Lantana Road, Lantana, 33462
• Fountains of Boynton, 6627 West Boynton Beach Boulevard, Boynton Beach, 33437
• Meadows Square, 4753 North Congress Avenue, Boynton Beach, FL 33426
• Boynton Plaza, 111 North Congress Avenue, Boynton Beach, 33436
• Sunshine Square Shopping Center, 501 SE 18th Avenue, Boynton Beach, 33435
• Aberdeen Square, 4966 Le Chalet Boulevard, Boynton Beach, 33436
• Aberdeen, 8340 Jog Road, Boynton Beach, 33437
• Canyon Town Center, Boynton Beach Boulevard and Lyons Road, Boynton Beach, 33437
• Valencia Square, Woolbright Road and Jog Road, Boynton Beach, 33437
• Whitworth Farms, 12425 Hagen Ranch Road, Boynton Beach, 33437
• Village Square, 3775 Woolbright Road, Village of Golf, 33436
• The Plaza at Delray, 1538 South Federal Highway, Delray Beach, 33444
• Delray Square Shopping Center, 4771 West Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, 33445
• Shops of San Marco, 13860 South Jog Road, Delray Beach, 33446
• Village of Oriole Plaza, 7375 West Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, 33446
• Addison Centre, 16130 South Jog Road, Delray Beach, 33446
• North Delray Commons, 555 NE 5th Avenue, Delray Beach, 33483
• Westwinds of Boca, 9846 Glades Road, Boca Raton, 33434
• Mercado Real, 1001 South Federal Highway, Boca Raton, 33432
• The Reserve at Boca Raton, 9720 Clint Moore Road, Boca Raton, 33496
• West Boca Plaza, 22973 South State Road 7, Boca Raton, 33428
• Polo Club Shoppes, 5050 Champion Boulevard, Boca Raton, 33496
• Boca Valley Plaza, 7431 North Federal Highway, Boca Raton, 33487
• Woodfield Plaza, 3003 Yamato Road, Boca Raton, 33434
• Palmetto Park Square, 1339 West Palmetto Park, Boca Raton, 33486
• Lakeside Square at Logger’s Run, 11650 West Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, 33428
• Boca Village Square, 21230 Saint Andrews Boulevard, Boca Raton, 33433
• Garden Shops at Boca, Powerline Road and Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, 33433
• Publix at Spanish River, 4141 North Federal Highway, Boca Raton, 33431
• 401 North Congress Avenue, Lake Park, 33403
• 4701 Okeechobee Boulevard, West Palm Beach, 33417
• 103 South State Road 7, Royal Palm Beach, 33411
• 1500 Corporate Drive, Boynton Beach, 33426
• 21870 State Road 7, Boca Raton, FL 33428
• 1694 West Indiantown Road, Jupiter, 33458
• 3860 Northlake Boulevard, Lake Park, 33403
• 1550 Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, West Palm Beach, 33401
• 6800 Okeechobee Boulevard, West Palm Beach, 33411
• 220 South State Road 7, West Palm Beach, FL 33414
• 4241 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, 33461
• 5750 Jog Road, Lake Worth, 33463
• 1500 SW 8th Street, Boynton Beach, 33426
• 1400 Waterford Place, Delray Beach, 33444
• 15050 Jog Road, Delray Beach, 33445
• 9820 Glades Road, Boca Raton, 33434