(Reuters) – Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida with Category 4 fury on Wednesday, pushing residents to empty grocery shelves, board up windows and rush to evacuation shelters.
Ian hit Florida’s Gulf Coast with catastrophic force, pummeling the state with howling winds, torrential rain and a treacherous surge of ocean surf that made it one of the most powerful storms on record to hit the United States.
Several U.S. companies have curtailed operations as they brace for impact:
HEAVY INDUSTRY AND TRANSPORT
Airlines have canceled nearly 2,000 U.S. flights as of Wednesday morning and scrapped 1,608 Thursday flights, as per FlightAware data, with American Airlines Group Inc and Southwest Airlines Co among the worst hit.
Some airports in Florida, including Orlando International Airport, have also halted operations.
United Parcel Service Inc said services in Florida “may be impacted”. The company continues to provide pickup and delivery services as conditions permit.
ENERGY AND POWER
BP Plc evacuated personnel and halted output at its Na Kika and Thunder Horse offshore production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. Since then, it has been working to redeploy offshore personnel after determining Hurricane Ian no longer posed a significant threat to its assets.
Chevron Corp also removed staff from two offshore Gulf of Mexico platforms.
Occidental Petroleum Corp and Hess Corp said they had taken precautions ahead of the storm’s arrival and were implementing storm procedures without providing specifics.
Customers of utilities including NextEra Energy Inc’s Florida Power & Light Co and Duke Energy Corp were affected by outages.
Amazon.com Inc, which has about 10 fulfillment centers in Florida, will pause its operations in some sites in the state. A spokesperson said the company was monitoring the hurricane and making adjustments to operations to keep warehouse staff and drivers safe.
More than 100 Walmart and Sam Clubs stores were closed in Florida, according to Walmart Inc’s website.
Target Corp said it has temporarily closed or adjusted hours of all store locations in the storm’s immediate path.
Costco Wholesale Corp closed nine stores located in Florida due to an impact of Hurricane Ian.
THEME PARKS AND RESORTS
Walt Disney Co will close its theme and water parks on Wednesday and Thursday, while some of its hotels in the state were set to be closed through Friday. A spokesperson said the attractions that will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday include Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Magic Kingdom.
Comcast Corp’s Universal Resort and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday.
Walt Disney Co’s Disney Cruise Line on Tuesday canceled its Disney Wish ship that was to set sail from Florida on Friday.
Carnival Corp’s Carnival Cruise Line on Tuesday canceled two of its Thursday sailings from Florida due to port closures while also calling off a few stops on certain ships already on the sea.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd changed the itinerary of its Norwegian Sky’s eight-day Western Caribbean voyage, which departed from Miami on Sunday. The company also canceled a Thursday sailing of Norwegian Getaway’s ten-day Caribbean voyage departing from Florida.
Royal Caribbean Group said it has postponed a Thursday sailing of its Mariner of the Seas cruise to Friday. This was due to Port Canaveral’s expected closure on Wednesday through Friday morning, while some of its other ships stayed at the sea or rerouted and called off a few stops.
Drugstore retailer Walgreens Boots Alliance said Florida pharmacies can refill medications for a 30-day supply without permission from a doctor or other prescribers, except in the case of controlled substances.
Wealth manager Raymond James Financial Inc said its headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida would be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. In the meantime, the bank’s offices in Memphis, Southfield and Denver would support critical operations.
AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND FERTILIZERS
Fertilizer maker Mosaic Co said all of its Florida locations have been secured, with some fully evacuated while minimal staff remain at other sites. Employees at the company’s headquarters in downtown Tampa and at other locations in Florida are working remotely.
Agribusiness Cargill closed grain-processing, salt-packaging, and starches and sweeteners facilities in the Tampa, Florida, area, spokesman Daniel Sullivan said. The company also shut an animal-nutrition facility in the Poinciana-Kissimmee area, he said.
Perdue Farms, which raises chickens for meat, is preparing sandbags, checking generators and making sure farms have enough feed, spokeswoman Diana Souder said. The company is adjusting delivery and processing schedules as needed, she said.
Tyson Foods Inc, the biggest U.S. meat company by sales, is preparing to deploy a disaster relief team, spokeswoman Kelly Hellbusch said.
(Reporting by Ruhi Soni, Ananya Mariam Rajesh, Priyamvada C, Eva Mathews, Manas Mishra and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Shinjini Ganguli and Krishna Chandra Eluri)