FEMA Activates Its “Waffle House Index” For Florence

The New York Post reports:

As Hurricane Florence nears, FEMA will be keeping a close eye on the Waffle House — the fast-food restaurant chain known for staying open 24 hours a day every day of the year. The agency coined the term “Waffle House Index” during the 2004 hurricane season to measure the effect of a natural disaster on an area.

If the eatery shutters or limits menu items during or after a hazard — they know the community took a major hit.

The index has three color-coded levels: Green means everything is fine, at least in the Waffle House; yellow is when the restaurant serves a limited menu, meaning the area lost power or they’re running low on supplies; and red is if it’s closed, showing the area has been hit hard.

Inverse reports:

In a blog post from FEMA in 2011, author Dan Stoneking explained that the index is not just about whether Waffle Houses stay open during a natural disaster, but also about when they re-open if they do close.

“The Waffle House test doesn’t just tell us how quickly a business might rebound – it also tells us how the larger community is faring,” he wrote. If restaurants like Waffle House, as well as other important private sector businesses like grocery stores and banks, can re-open following a natural disaster, local economies can start to recover.