Hurricane Michael forced 30 Waffle House restaurants to shut down as of Wednesday night.

Waffle House has not closed this many restaurants since October 2016 when Hurricane Matthew caused the chain to close more than 40 restaurants.

The Waffle House Storm Center team has been tracking the storm since Monday. The restaurants, which are predominantly located in the South, rarely close so that they are able to provide resources and food to first responders.

Pat Warner, Waffle House spokesman, said 22 restaurants in Florida and eight in Georgia closed with the approach of the extreme weather event.

“We have closed these restaurants yesterday so our employees can be safe as Hurricane Michael comes on shore,” Warner confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday.

In an email to USA Today, Warner said they have not been able to check damage, but they planned to do so early Thursday. Waffle House would then develop a plan to reopen at those locations.

Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm with 155 mile per hour winds at landfall, which is only two miles per hour away from a Category 5 storm.

[More: Hurricane Michael leaves 1.2 million in the dark from Florida to Virginia]

At least one Waffle House location has suffered severe damage, according to WJAX-TV. A billboard fell on the restaurant at the Panama City location, and video showed hanging light fixtures, debris strewn about the restaurant, and shattered windows.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses a "Waffle House Index" to measure how well an area will recover from a natural disaster. The color-coded indicator shows which restaurants are open, closed, or offering a limited menu. If Waffle House restaurants close, the indicator is red, since the restaurants only close in extreme circumstances.

A FEMA blog post from 2011 says, "The Waffle House test doesn't just tell us how quickly a business might rebound — it also tells how the larger community is faring. 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."