Food & Drink

FEMA's 'Waffle House Index' Shows the Severity of Hurricane Matthew

How do you know when things have really hit the fan? Just look at your local Waffle House. The Waffle House Index is a real thing, and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) uses it to determine the severity of natural disasters in the U.S. Of course, it's not official, but they take the restaurant chain's reluctancy to close for anything as an indicator.

Waffle House is notorious for staying open no matter the circumstances. So, if a local Waffle House closes, you know things must be pretty serious in the area. The index mainly looks at how quickly they re-open after weather events to access aftermath damage. Okay, so not very scientific, but it makes sense!

"If you get [to a place where a disaster hit] and the Waffle House is closed? That's really bad," FEMA administrator Craig Fugate explained to Business Insider.

During Hurricane Matthew, Waffle House had hoped to remain open. However, mandatory evacuations in three states changed all that. Waffle House's official Twitter reported on Friday that 25 locations would be closing in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Smart decision!

"We're a 24-hour restaurant, so oddly enough shutting down is a big deal for us," Waffle House VP Pat Warner told "When it comes to making the final decision, we let our operations team on the ground, like individual restaurant managers, make the final decision based on local conditions."

As Hurricane Matthew barrels on toward Georgia and South Carolina, we urge people to heed all warnings and evacuation orders. Shelters are available in FloridaGeorgia and South Carolina should you need them.

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FEMA's 'Waffle House Index' Shows the Severity of Hurricane Matthew