The Politics Of Hurricanes: Why Storms Can Make Or Break A Presidency
Major storms can be devastating and the response from the White House can have lasting political consequences.LEARN MORE
The "Waffle House Index" is an informal system developed by a former FEMA official to help assess the risks of a storm.
It may sound silly, but Waffle Houses can tell you a lot about how severe a storm is going to be.
"They actually have a storm center that is activated, monitoring Hurricane Florence."
"Y'know one way to tell how bad the damage is after a storm? Visit a Waffle House."
That's because of the "Waffle House Index" — an informal system and term coined by former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate.
It works like this: Amid major storms, an open Waffle House operating with a full menu indicates a relatively easy or at least manageable recovery. A Waffle House running on a limited menu may indicate a power outage, cut food supply lines or a more dangerous storm — but one where it's still safe to operate. Now, say a storm is so bad that it forces Waffle Houses to close. That's rare, because Waffle Houses are pretty well-prepared for disasters. But it's also bad news for the areas affected by the storm. According to FEMA's former administrator, closed Waffle Houses could indicate difficult roads to recovery for the community at large.
The index came to fruition after a tornado devastated Joplin, Missouri, in 2011. Despite the major damage to homes and businesses, the two Waffle Houses in the area stayed open.
That meant the local economy was still stable. And that information can help emergency responders assess damage and coordinate services.
Because of this, Waffle House now regularly sends its index of more than 1,500 24-hour restaurants to FEMA and other agencies.
As Ophelia weakened, a new tropical storm named Philippe was brewing in the Atlantic, 1,175 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands.
The storm made landfall near Emerald Isle at 6:15 a.m. on Saturday with winds close to 70 mph, later subsiding to 40 mph.
The equinoxes — both fall and spring — mark moments in astronomical time, based on how planet Earth is tilted.
Police said the off-duty trooper shot his Houston neighbor through a closed door, striking him in the shoulder.
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