If the restaurant is entirely closed, the rarest of scenarios, the index is red.
The company's emergency response plan was set up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed seven Waffle House restaurants and forced 100 more to close in 2005.
"If we are open quickly after a storm, that means the community is coming back and folks are out, we are getting back to that sense of normalcy", Warner said. Here's how it works.
When a storm strikes, local officials will put out a call to the nearest Waffle House and find out what's on the menu. "If they're open but have a limited menu, that's yellow", he said.
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When a power outage in 2014 shut down several Cherokee County businesses - the local Waffle House cooked with gas and welcomed customers. He referenced EHS Today, a magazine for the environment that wrote about how big companies such as Waffle House and Home Depot prepare meticulously for disasters.
Waffle House said on Twitter that its "Storm Center" was monitoring Hurricane Florence, which is expected to hit the coast between North Carolina and SC late Thursday or early Friday and could impact 230 of its restaurants.
Here's hoping all the residents of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, have evacuated the city: Their Waffle House just hit Code Red. When a major storm is in the forecast, Waffle House vehicles-known as "jump teams" or "go teams"- are deployed from headquarters to the edge of emergency zones so they can come in as soon as the worst of the storm is over and begin necessary repairs or provide assistance.
"They are open most of the time and that was the index".
"The Waffle House test just doesn't tell us how quickly a business might rebound - it also tells how the larger community is faring", said a FEMA blog post from 2011, when Craig Fugate was administrator under former president Obama. From Titusville to Fort Pierce, Florida, every Waffle House was closed as operations became too hard to continue.
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