Waffle House closes several Florida locations as Hurricane Ian approaches
(CNN) – Waffle House, which is known for staying open in severe weather, has closed 21 of its locations in mandatory evacuation zones in Florida as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, ahead of Hurricane Ian.
The closures bring into play the term “Waffle House Index,” which has unofficially been used to measure the effect of natural disasters. It means if a Waffle House shuts down or limits its menu, the community likely took a major hit.
Former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the term came about during Hurricane Charley in 2004.
Fugate was the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, and he and his coworkers discovered the last places that stayed open were Waffle Houses.
They eventually turned the pattern into a color-coded key:
- Red means Waffle House is closed completely, and the area was probably the hardest hit.
- Yellow means the chain is open with a limited menu – meaning the area has power outages or water isn’t safe to drink, but people can get around.
- Green means Waffle House is running at peak condition, so basic services are intact.
FEMA doesn’t base any recommendations for post-storm recovery on the Waffle House Index, but Fugate said consulting with businesses is an important part of after-storm cleanup.
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