Some people watch the S&P 500 index. Second, at the Waffle House Index.
It apparently started with former head of the Florida Department of Emergency Management, William Craig Fugate. Fugate would use the Waffle House diner chain as a proxy for how businesses and communities in the surrounding area recovered from a disaster.
The index (WHI) is quite simple, as a FEMA blog post explains:
- About a Waffle House is open and serves its full menu: green . This means that diner probably has power or is running on a generator.
- If a waffle house is open but serves a limited menu: yellow . Diner probably does not have electricity or running water but can still cook on a gas stove.
- If a waffle house is closed: red . The disaster is bad enough that not even Waffle House serves eggs and grits.
WHI is a good proxy because Waffle House ̵
I.I.I.'s own Lynne McChristian could once grab dinner thanks to a yellow yellow WHI code. "During the 2004 hurricanes in Florida, the disaster reaction team led me up outside Waffle House for dinner, as it was the only place that was open," McChristian said. She fed six people for $ 30. Not bad.
WHI is such a good proxy, fact that FEMA is also watching the index during a natural disaster.
Back in 2016, WHI went red before Hurricane Matthew struck Florida. As FiveThirtyEight reported, it triggered a, well-colored reaction:
Waffle House announced on October 6 that the prevention closed some restaurants on a 90-mile stretch of Interstate 95 between Fort Pierce and Titusville in Florida. (In the next few days, when the storm struck up the coast and flooded North Carolina, it would close 98 all told.) And as soon as the announcement expired, media tracking the storm and customers on social media claimed they closed as a sign of the apocalypse.
Miami Herald: "When the waffle house goes to a hurricane, you know it's bad." Washington Post: "Hurricane Matthew is so scary even though it always opens the kitchen." A faithful customer on Twitter : "GOD IN HEAVEN THIS IS ENDED!"
For those on the road to natural disasters (including tornadoes): Be sure and watch the WHI to see if you can still get an All Star special after the storm is over.