Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

How Waffle House Became Important During Disasters

How Waffle House Became Important During Disasters

When a power outage in 2014 shut down several Cherokee County businesses - the local Waffle House cooked with gas and welcomed customers. On Wednesday, Nia Watson, a local news reporter for WMBF, tweeted that the Myrtle Beach Waffle House had closed for the storm. When a location is closed, the index is red, which is quite rare.

"If we are open quickly after the storm broke, that means the community is coming back and we are getting back to that sense of normalcy", Pat Warner, director or PR at Waffle House, said in an interview on CNN on Wednesday.

"Waffle House Index" has become a key part of storm preparedness: When a Waffle House closes in the face of an impending storm, that's when you really need to be anxious. Really. This is because the restaurant is known for staying open through nearly anything - from a storm to a holiday.

Waffle House stays open 24 hours a day, so when it closes, that's when you know a storm is very risky. If a Waffle House restaurant is open and serving its entire menu, the map shows a green location. The team also asked people to "plan ahead and be safe".

In fact, Waffle House Index is so reliable that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) looks to it when a hurricane or another natural disaster is on the way.

Waffle House is used as an example of how quickly a business, and therefore a community, may recover from a storm.

Waffle House's well-known sturdiness also serves as a monitor of sorts for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The company prides itself on keeping most of its 2,100 locations open 24/7, even in the face of severe weather, such as Hurricane Florence. EHS Today explains that the Waffle House Index runs on a color-coded system.

Warner said the restaurants along the Carolina coast impacted by Hurricane Florence are gathering resources, so they can open as soon as the storm is finished. We call it red.

"A lot of times, especially after a big storm, we're the only ones still open because we've got generators", said Warner. They're not going to let a little Biblically strong wind stop them from slinging hash browns.

"You usually see a decline ahead and a little bit of a pick up after", she said. From Titusville to Fort Pierce, Florida, every Waffle House was closed as operations became too hard to continue.

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