When bad storms strike, officials look to Waffle House - FOX Carolina 21

When bad storms strike, officials look to Waffle House

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Waffle House serves breakfast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (File/FOX Carolina) Waffle House serves breakfast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (File/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

When severe weather strikes, emergency officials often look to the Waffle House to assess how bad the storms hit certain areas.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses an unofficial scale caused "The Waffle House Index" to help determine how much an area needs after a disaster.

While not their only tool, FEMA officials say the 24-hour restaurant chain is often the first place that comes to mind.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, says the restaurant is helpful in assessing the damage.

"If the Waffle House is open after the hurricane, then that means there's power and there's water, so you keep going," Nelson said. "If the Waffle House is closed, things are pretty bad."

FEMA uses the index to call restaurants in impacted areas to find out if they're open and serving menu staples likes omelets and hash browns.

A full menu means the store has power and little-to-no damage, a limited menu means they are running on a generator and if the Waffle House is closed, that is usually a sign things are bad.

FEMA director Craig Fugate came up with the index while working for the state of Florida and has expanded it since joining the Obama administration to include other businesses like Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe's.

"After many of the storms, it's very often that we'll hear from folks, 'This is the first hot meal I've had in a week,'" said Waffle House president Walt Ehmer.

After disasters, Waffle House responds by doing what it does best, feeding hungry customers.

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