While there are many ways to judge the damage after a storm, most people asses how bad it’s been using their local news as one of the biggest indicators. But for W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there is another way- the Waffle House Index.

Christian Science Monitor reports:

Using what’s come to be known as the “Waffle House index,” he checks to see if the restaurant is open in any given area. If it is and serving a full menu, the index is green. That means there’s water and power, he says, and area residents should be fairly well off. If the restaurant is open but serving a limited menu, the index is yellow. That means there’s water but no power. If the restaurant is closed, the Waffle House index is red and there’s no power or water.


While the method isn’t entirely scientific, Fugate says it proved to be a good indicator for him when he headed up Florida’s Department of Emergency Management. During his tenure there, he helped the state prepare for and recover from several major hurricanes during the mid 2000’s. And as The Wall Street Journal points out- the state of the menu after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina was better than the state of many of the emergency services meant to help.

The company fully embraced its post-disaster business strategy after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Seven of its restaurants were destroyed and 100 more shut down, but those that reopened quickly were swamped with customers.


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