Famous for staying open during natural disasters, Waffle House closes 18 restaurants

Posted at 1:53 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 13:30:36-04

(RNN) - Hurricane Michael is so bad (a Category 4 storm with sustained 150 mph winds), Waffle House closed 18 restaurants along the Florida Panhandle for the foreseeable future.

FEMA created a Waffle House index back in 2011 when then-administrator Craig Fugate noticed that Waffle Houses stayed open with limited menus depending on how severely a community was hit by a natural disaster.

Fugate recognized that Waffle House is extremely prepared for emergencies. In fact, the company has special crew, - the Waffle House Storm Center - a team that monitors storms and will dispatch help to restaurants in the path of a hurricane.

The FEMA Waffle House index is color-coded red, yellow and green - like a stoplight.  

If the Waffle House Index is green, all systems are normal and the community is recovering well.

A yellow on the index means Waffle House is serving a limited menu, and the community may be experiencing power or supply issues.

When Waffle House closes restaurants, the index is at a red level. With how severe Hurricane Michael is, Waffle House closed numerous stores along the Gulf Coast based on evacuation orders.  

Pat Warner, public relations director for Waffle House, told USA Today the restaurants will re-open right after the storm.

After Hurricane Florence last month, CEO Walt Ehmer - carrying the Waffle House Storm Playbook - went to Wilmington, NC, to help serve those who needed some hash browns smothered and covered. 

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