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The Waffle House Index: An Unofficial Guide To Storm Damage

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jason Allen
Jason came to North Texas after working as a reporter for four y...
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Downed trees, broken power lines and missing shingles are all one way to gauge storm damage. You could also check to see if the corner restaurant can still make you a waffle.

For a couple years now, The Waffle House Index has been a legitimate, if unofficial, measurement of damage after a storm. Two days before the 2012 hurricane season, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate urged people to prepare immediately.

He has said in the past that Waffle House is a good example of being ready for what eventually will come.

The Georgia chain is known for never closing. To accommodate the demanding requirement, the company has prepared stores to operate with little or no power, similar to conditions after storms. Emergency officials have been known to designate post-storm damage assessment as green if local stores are still serving a full menu.

It’s stage yellow if restaurants have to switch to a limited menu. If they close, it’s condition red.

Their resilience can be seen in recent events in North Texas. In August while a fuel truck exploded and burned in Roanoke, a Waffle House was the closest business to the scene, and stayed open.

Last week when power was knocked out to 12,000 customers in Lake Worth, Waffle House employees were still on the job.

Employee Kalie Hammitt said she called her boss when the lights went out.

“I was like, ‘hey, do I gotta come in?’ She was like, ‘yes.’ I was like, ‘why? There’s no power anywhere.’”

Company president Walt Ehmer posted on the FEMA blog today, “…over time, it simply becomes part of your company’s or home’s culture.”

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