The Waffle House Emergency Response System

How to know how dire a situation is according to The Waffle House Index

Waffle House is no ordinary diner. It may be a place to grab a stack of pancakes after a night out, yes. But it could also help you assess how serious a particular environmental disaster is. So a pretty multi-faceted establishment. The Waffle House Index was created, unofficially but very much for real, by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate as an analog assessment of a community’s wellness after a storm. Basically, he noticed that when an area got slammed by a disaster, the first thing to reopen was always a Waffle House, and it was a leading indicator that things were looking up. But if the Waffle House in a given neighborhood stayed closed, well, send in the FEMA troops, because things are dire. Craig, you’re brilliant. 

Green waffle


You might not have power at your house but everything is mostly okay. And it was still a good idea to stock up on batteries and water—don’t stop doing that. Take a slow drive through town and help out with storm cleanup before rewarding yourself at Waffle House: The full menu is being served. 

Yellow waffle


Things have gotten slightly out of hand and you may be currently seeking refuge at this particular Waffle House. However, because of the need for refuge, the restaurant is running on a limited menu and could be using generators if power is down throughout the immediate area. They’re still there for you though, and a lot of other places are currently very closed. Share your booth and some conversation. Things will get better soon. 

Red waffle


You say Waffle House is closed? Friend, you should not be there. We’re not implying that you willfully ignored an evacuation order. But if there was such an order and you’re currently in view of a closed Waffle House, it is very possible you may need the assistance of the National Guard. You’re not tougher than Waffle House. 

"You're not tougher than waffle house" quote with diamond border.