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Why the government turns to Waffle House when tracking emergencies

The ‘Waffle House Index’ has been activated for Hurricane Florence

It's called "the Waffle House Index" and it has three colors, like a stop light (green, yellow and red) − and, reportedly, it's yet another way the Federal Emergency Management Agency tracks approaching storms and other emergencies.

Basically, according to Marketplace's Elly Yu, because many Waffle House locations are in states vulnerable to hurricanes and other tornadoes, and because WaHo "prides itself" on being open all of the time, FEMA realized things must be very bad if the restaurant acquiesces to the weather.

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"(In the 'Waffle House Index,') green means the restaurant is open as usual, yellow means it’s on a limited menu, and red means the restaurant’s closed," Yu wrote.

“It just doesn’t happen where Waffle House is normally shut down,” Philip Strouse, FEMA’s private sector liaison for the Southeast, told Markeplace in 2015. "... They’re the canary in the coalmine, if you will."

» Hurricane Florence could affect Georgia, new models show

He added that the index "gives us a pretty good feel right away of what’s going on at what time.

Waffle House officials said disaster preparedness is a major part of their ethic, including plans to rent generators as needed and a pared-down menu for efficiency.

» Everything you need to know to prepare for hurricane season 

Unfortunately, vice president Pat Warner said, the emergency menu doesn't include bacon − or waffles.

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