September 1, 2011

The Waffle House Index

When a hurricane makes landfall, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency relies on a couple of metrics to assess its destructive power.

First, there is the well-known Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. Then there is what he calls the "Waffle House Index."

Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.

"If you get there and the Waffle House is closed?" FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has said. "That's really bad. That's where you go to work."

- great article about Waffle House's efforts to stay open during natural disasters and other crises. as a Southerner, i have a soft spot in my heart for WH. when i was in high school, my friends and i would go to shows at a venue across town, and it was a tradition to head over to WH afterwards. it wasn't solely our tradition either- we would usually run into other concert goers and the occasional band member or two. it was a great extension of the evening and fostered this fun little community. it's funny how that happens- you wouldn't have thought to strike up a conversation with a random person at the show, but running into them afterwards creates this connection that you have to comment on- "hey, were you just at the Rocketboy show? OMG, so was i! do you want my toast?"

also, how awesome is this? the mobile Waffle House:

They are really taking this disaster-preparedness seriously.

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