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        Money | Economic Concepts

4
Waffle House
After a hurricane, FEMA officials check to see how many Waffle Houses in the area are operational and use that information to determine the severity of the storm damage. Dominic Bugatto/Flickr Vision/Getty Images
After a hurricane, FEMA officials check to see how many Waffle Houses in the area are operational and use that information to determine the severity of the storm damage. Dominic Bugatto/Flickr Vision/Getty Images

The yellow-and-black Waffle House sign is literally a beacon in the storm during hurricane season in the U.S. When most other restaurants and grocery stores shut down during natural disasters, the Southern chain and its famous "smothered, covered and chunked" hash browns keeps the lights on — or at least the grill. Waffle House has such a strong reputation for riding out storms that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) measures the severity of storm damage by what Waffle House is serving on its menu [source: Bauerlein].

This is not a joke. FEMA chief Craig Fugate uses a color-coded "Waffle House Index" to determine how hard a community has been hit by a storm. If the local Waffle House is serving a full menu, that's green. If the restaurant has lost power, but is still open and serving a limited, grill-only menu, that's yellow. Red means the restaurant is closed, a "really bad" sign, according to Fugate [source: Bauerlein].


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