Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Economy | By

As Hurricane Florence approaches, Waffle House activates ‘storm center’

As Hurricane Florence approaches, Waffle House activates ‘storm center’

If a closed Waffle House encourages people to take shelter, bring on the Waffle House Index. Over 700 Starbucks locations were forced to close in Florida and Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Irma a year ago.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has an unusual way to track the severity of a natural disaster, and it involves Waffle House restaurants.

As Hurricane Florence nears, FEMA will be keeping a close eye on the Waffle House - the fast-food restaurant chain known for staying open 24 hours a day every day of the year. This tells emergency officials how the community is handling the storm. Here's how it works. If they're open but have limited menu, that's yellow. Waffle House is one of few businesses that usually remains open during natural disasters.

Major companies such as The Home Depot, Walmart and Waffle House serve as role models in disaster preparedness.

Waffle House said on Twitter that its "Storm Center" was monitoring Hurricane Florence, which is expected to hit the coast between North Carolina and SC late Thursday or early Friday and could impact 230 of its restaurants. FEMA has since developed a color-coded system that is dependent on Waffle House's status.

"Look, I think it was used at a point in time", FEMA's Alex Amparo told reporters on a phone briefing obtained by ABC News.

"The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can re-open, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again - signalling a stronger recovery for that community,"FEMA said in a blog post in 2011".

It's well-known among southerners that if the 24/7/365 restaurants ever close, real danger is afoot, and in advance of Hurricane Florence's landfall, at least two locations - in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Morehead, North Carolina - have closed.

"They know immediately which stores are going to be affected and they call their employees to know who can show up and who cannot", Panos Kouvelis, Ph.D., the Emerson Distinguished Professor of Operations and Manufacturing Management and director of the Olin's Boeing Center for Technology, Information and Manufacturing, explained to EHS Today.

Heed your local Waffle House warning and evacuate. "But our job [as corporate officials] is to give them all the support they need to stay open".

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