Why does FEMA monitor the Waffle House Index in times of severe weather?

(HNNDaily Photo/courtesy of the Waffle House Facebook)
(Southside Daily Photo/courtesy of the Waffle House Facebook)

The beloved Waffle House franchise has more than 2,100 stores in 25 states across America with the majority located in the South.

Given their locations, many Waffle Houses have been through major storms and are known to stay open long after most have either evacuated and/or left.

An article written by Dan Stoneking from FEMA explains what Waffle Houses have to do with disaster and risk management.

It explains why major companies such as The Home Depot, Walmart and Waffle House serve as role models in disaster preparedness.

According to the article, those companies have good risk management plans to ensure their stores continue to operate when a disaster strikes, and also provide basic supplies to people in their community.

The Waffle House test, also known as the Waffle House Index, shows what condition the store is in.

If a Waffle House store is open and offering a full menu, the index is green. If it is open but serving from a limited menu, it’s yellow.

When the location has been forced to close, the index is red.

Because Waffle Houses are well-prepared for disasters it is rare for the index to hit red.

For some context, the Waffle House in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has been closed ahead of Hurricane Florence’s landfall.

In addition to serving the public with waffles during a storm, the Waffle House Test can tell us how quickly a business might rebound after a particularly large storm and how the larger community is faring, according to FEMA’s article.

The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can re-open, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again – signaling a stronger recovery for that community.

FEMA does want the public to know that while the Waffle House Index is monitored, people should heed the warnings of officials when asked to evacuate instead of relying on a Waffle House to hit red.

According to a tweet from the Waffle House, the Waffle House Storm Center has been activated and is monitoring the locations that may be affected.

There are several Waffle House locations across Hampton Roads and the Waffle House has said people should monitor their twitter feed for updates.

To find a Waffle House near you, click here.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.