Y’all ever heard of Waffle House? It’s a chain of restaurants located in many of the US’s southernmost states. There’s one about half a mile from our house here, actually. The waffle-centric restaurants sell (apart from waffles) soup, chili, coffee, and pretty much every breakfast item you can think of.
What’s surprising about Waffle House, though, is the fact that it is one of the top four corporations in the US for disaster response.* Says almighty Wiki: “Waffle House has an extensive disaster management plan with on-site and portable generators and pre-positioned food…This helps mitigate the effects of a storm on the power grid and the supply chains.”
In fact, this provider of syrup-pocket goodness is so disaster-ready that an unofficial gauge of disaster severity is based on the status of any Waffle House restaurants located within the disaster area. This gauge is known as the Waffle House Index and is used by FEMA. They employ a rough three-level guide based on Waffle House’s restaurant status to assess storm/disaster impact:
- Green: Waffle House is open and serving its full menu. Nothing too serious. Carry on. Buy some pancakes.
- Yellow: Waffle House is open but is serving a limited menu. Moderate damage; there may be no power and/or food supply may be low.
- Red: Waffle House is closed! Severe damage. No waffles. Apocalypse now.
Also, a quote from FEMA admin Craig Fugate: “If you get [to the disaster site] and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”
Guess there were no Waffle Houses in New Orleans for them to gauge the severity of Hurricane Katrina’s impact…?
*The other four companies are WalMart, The Home Depot, and Lowe’s.