The Waffle House Index

As Hurricane Florence slams into the North and South Carolina costs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is monitoring a vital disaster tracking service: The Waffle House Index.

I am charmed to say this is a real thing. The beloved Southern chain with the cheery yellow and black signage is renowned for never closing. So when one does, it’s cause for broad alarm about the state of the surrounding community.

Here’s how it works. The index is color coded. If the Waffle Houses in a danger area are open and offering their full menus, the index is green. If they’re only offering a limited menu, the index is yellow. And if a Waffle House has been forced to close, the index is red. And it takes a lot to turn that code from yellow to red. During Hurricane Matthew in 2016 the Waffle House was only forced to close after the ceiling tiles began to fall.

When officials call for the evacuation of an area in danger some people actually decide whether to leave based on whether their local Waffle House is open or closed. The one in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, closed two days ago and I’ll bet the city is 100 percent empty.

I can tell you with certainty that the 1994 ice storm that left Middle Tennessee without power for weeks was not an official disaster. Our Waffle House remained open and let me tell you cheesy eggs and raisin toast never tasted so good.

I hope the good people of the Carolinas remain safe and that there are hash browns smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped and country in their near future.

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