States of emergency have been declared as Hurricane Matthew pushes northeast along the coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Hundreds of thousands have lost power across central Florida with concern that hundreds of thousands more could also become powerless as the hurricane rips its way through the state’s east coast. Mass outages are also expected in Georgia and South Carolina. In Florida, Georgia and South Carolina it is estimated that total economic losses could be in the tens of billions of dollars. Evacuations have been ordered in those states. It has been reported that one person in the U.S. has died as a result of the hurricane. The number dead in Haiti, where Hurricane Matthew first hit, stands at 300 and rising.
As Hurricane Matthew hurried towards landfall estimates of its strength varied and often changed. As it makes landfall it can be difficult to assess the damage done in the immediate aftermath using FEMA’s formal indicators. Thereby, FEMA utilizes informal measures of how seriously a storm is expected to affect a community, such as the Waffle House Index.
As Waffle House locations are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and notoriously stay open during inclement weather, their closure is a harbinger of dangerous weather. In fact, Waffle House is one of many such chains FEMA uses in order to gauge disaster effectiveness and potentially imminent danger. If Waffle House is serving a full menu the restaurant has power and is serving a full menu; damage limited. A limited menu indicates there may be no power or power from a generator, food supplies may be low and damage is more significant. If the restaurant is closed this means damage is severe, or at least expected to be severe.
As of this morning 25 Waffle House restaurants were closed in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Have a nice day.