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FEMA Uses a "Waffle House Index" to Gauge Disaster Severity

The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses an informal measure dubbed the "Waffle House Index" to determine the severity of natural disasters...
June 10, 2015

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses an informal measure dubbed the "Waffle House Index" to determine the severity of natural disasters. Mary Hudak, spokeswoman for FEMA's Southeast Region, said the government relies on situational awareness of its private sector partners—of which, Waffle House is considered one—to determine a storm's magnitude.

"If we hear from a Waffle House that it is open, then that tells us there is power, their employees can get to work and the transportation distribution network is working," she said. "That's great situational awareness for us." What if the Waffle House is closed? "It tells us there have been more serious impacts in the community and things we need to look at."

The so-called "Waffle House Index" or "Matrix" was a term first coined by FEMA administrator and former Florida state FEMA director Craig Fugate.

When Severe Weather Strikes, FEMA Looks to Waffle House (Birmingham AL News 6/7/15)

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