Why FEMA watches the Waffle House menu during hurricanes

Ivan Schwartz
September 16, 2018

The popular Georgia-based diner chain renowned for its 365-day 24-hour service has an emergency routine that's so well-regarded, the Federal Emergency Management Agency unofficially uses the restaurants' status as an indicator for the severity of a natural disaster.

Should any Waffle Houses be devastated by the hurricane, the company also has its own emergency response squad that will send backup generators and other equipment to get the restaurant up and running after the storm. If a waffle house closes, officials believe that area must have been hit hard. "Plan ahead and be safe". That includes staying open during natural disasters such as Hurricane Florence.

As Hurricane Florence approaches, restaurants in North and SC are watching the weather to determine whether or not they will stay open. But did you know they're also ranked by something called the Waffle House Index?

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Many from the South decide how severe a storm is and if it warrants evacuation based on if Waffle House shuts its doors or not, and on Wednesday it appears some have ahead of Florence.

Because of this, FEMA internally uses an unofficial "Waffle House Index" to track potentially unsafe events. If a Waffle House is closed resulting from there is a catastrophe, or no longer it is deplorable. At the front of the room, three screens showed storm maps and news coverage of Category 4 hurricane's path. If the restaurant has a limited menu, often meaning the freezer is out, it's labeled yellow.

At least one restaurant in Myrtle Beach went dark a few days before the storm, and now has a sign saying it will reopen when Florence passes, WMBF reported. We have 250 restaurants, and we are monitoring resources so they can roll in right after the storm. He referenced EHS Today, a magazine for the environment that wrote about how big companies such as Waffle House and Home Depot prepare meticulously for disasters. So if a Waffle House closes, that's how you know the storm is really bad, or is predicted to be that way. Have you heard of the Waffle House index? "The sooner intelligent areas, grocery and corner stores, or banks can re-originate, the sooner native economies will originate up producing income all all over again - signaling a sturdy restoration for that personnel."In a 2016 interview with NPR, Fugate described how FEMA applied the Waffle Condo check".

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