How FEMA uses Waffle House in disasters, hurricanes
In 2004, Hurricane Charley hit Florida. FEMA personnel drove around assessing the damage, and noticed that several Waffle Houses were either closed or only serving a limited menu. It was an alarming site, because Waffle Houses virtually never close. Wochit
In 2004, Hurricane Charley hit Florida. Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel drove around the Sunshine State assessing the damage, and noticed that several Waffle Houses were either closed or only serving a limited menu.
It was an alarming site, because Waffle Houses virtually never close.
The FEMA agents knew things were bad.
That's where the "Waffle House disaster index" was born. The group was inspired to rank Waffle Houses in the same way: Green for fully operational, yellow for a limited menu and red for closed.
Former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate once said, "If you get there and the Waffle House is closed, that's really bad. That's where you go to work."
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The so-called index isn't actually an official metric. FEMA doesn't publish it anywhere. No one, except for Waffle House itself, counts how many restaurants are running lean or forced to close.
But the company does give that count to the agency, and FEMA uses it along with other objective measures to judge a storm's impact and to figure out where its own crews and other emergency responders can get fed.
The restaurant chain has more than 2,000 locations across the U.S., with most locations in the South. Waffle House is headquartered in Gwinnett County, Georgia.
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The higher the category, the stronger the winds. Category 1 winds range from 74 - 95 mph. Category 2 winds range from 96 - 110 mph. Category 3 winds range from 111 - 129. Category 4 winds range from 130 - 156 mph. Category 5 storms have winds above 157 mph. Wochit