Is this true about Waffle House?
From the WSJ about Waffle House and Hurricane Irene:
"When a hurricane makes landfall, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency relies on a couple of metrics to assess its destructive power.
First, there is the well-known Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. Then there is what he calls the "Waffle House Index."
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.
The mobile command center, above, went to Havelock, N.C., during Irene. "If you get there and the Waffle House is closed?" FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has said. "That's really bad. That's where you go to work."
Is that really how people feel about Waffle House?
Read the full article here: http://goo.gl/vrCDf
It's not that people adore Waffle House so much but that it'll be open when nothing else is. When Hurricane Isabel hit here in 2003 WH was the only restaurant that kept power (generator). When you haven't had a hot meal in four days, you take what you can get.
I don't think I would limit it to Waffle House, but I can see how service at fast food and quick-serve restaurants is a good measure of the general state of well being in a community following a hurricane. I was in Raleigh, NC when Hurricane Fran hit. For the first few days, nothing in our neighborhood was open. Slowly, fast food restaurants starting opening with very limited menus (burgers only, nothing from the fryer). Eventually, full service restaurants started opening. It all depends on electricity, food supplies, and the ability of staff to get to work.
With that said, my home town is one of the hardest hit by Irene in NC. It's estimated that 80% of buildings flooded to some extent, including my grandparents' house which had never flooded before in the 70 years since it was built. They had 2 tornadoes as the hurricane approached, then the water hit. But it's a small town, and there isn't a fast food restaurant to gauge the distress...
I was in a WH in Atlanta in January the morning after the big ice storm. The two employees were on their 3rd shift and were running out of food because delivery trucks couldn't get there. They were gracious to everyone that came in. DOT guys were in there eating, it was a pretty full house. It was the only place open in the area near the airport.