salvation by waffles

FEMA Uses Waffle House Index to Measure Hurricane Severity

Might explain the nation's obesity epidemic.

Might explain the nation's obesity epidemic.Photo: Waffle House/WSJ

Looking for a reason to move to Canada? When it comes to measuring hurricane damage, FEMA uses two metrics, reports The Wall Street Journal: First is something called the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, which sounds appropriately scientific; the second metric relies on Waffle House.

The Waffle House chain is basically the cockroach of the fatty-food world. The place just won't shut down, even during driving winds and torrential downpours. It's a beacon of hope, a place of comfort and shelter for people who desire a choice when courting death: braving the elements or cardiac arrest by way of smothered hash browns.

You have to give the place credit: When Irene hit, the company's mobile command center ("an RV named EM-50 after Bill Murray's urban-assault vehicle in the 1981 movie Stripes," notes WSJ) sprung into action, moving items to safe locations for an emergency "grill-only" menu. Does Obama favorite Alice Waters possess a mobile command center? We suspect not.

"Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions."

"If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That's really bad. That's where you go to work," FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, apparently serious and clearly angling for a raise, is quoted as saying.

We feel so safe now! Except what happens when a hurricane hits a place like, oh, say, Vermont, where there are no Waffle Houses? Oh, right.

Waffle House Index Measures Hurricane Recovery [WSJ]

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