Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Waffle House opens storm center; prepares to ride out Hurricane Florence

Waffle House opens storm center; prepares to ride out Hurricane Florence

Throughout the South, Waffle House can be seen along highways and within cities.

The major restaurant chain has activated a storm center to keep an eye on Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Florence may have an outsize impact on sales at fried-chicken chain Bojangles' Inc., while other southern chains like Waffle House are so popular, the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses its sales as a gauge in natural disasters.

The only thing that really ever does close a Waffle House is a direct hit from a tornado, maybe the building being on fire, or an exceptionally strong hurricane. The team also asked people to "plan ahead and be safe".

Naturally then, as Hurricane Florence bears down on the east coast, Waffle House is (seriously) preparing. If a Waffle House is closed because there's a disaster, it's bad.

FEMA even uses restaurant sales bumps as an indicator in monitoring severe weather, more specifically through the Waffle House Storm Center. Here's how Fugate described the test on a 2016 episode of NPR's comedy podcast Wait Wait.

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Pat Warner, director of public relations at the Waffle House chatted with Baldwin about how pivotal the index is.

Hurricane Florence has been designated a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.

As Hurricane Florence approaches, restaurants in North and SC are watching the weather to determine whether or not they will stay open. On Wednesday, Nia Watson, a local news reporter for WMBF, tweeted that the Myrtle Beach Waffle House had closed for the storm. We name it red. You can't make this stuff up, and that's just a lot of pressure to put on a place that sells waffles.

If the diner is only serving a limited menu, it tells FEMA there may be supply or power issues in an area. We have 250 restaurants, and we are monitoring resources so they can roll in right after the storm. FEMA noted it's rare for the index to turn red because "Waffle House is well-prepared for disasters".

This doesn't just show FEMA how quickly a business might rebound, it also shows it how the larger community is doing. The sooner restaurants, grocery stores, and banks re-open - the sooner the local economy and recovery restart.

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