Why the government turns to Waffle House when tracking emergencies

Company’s top executives are at their Norcross headquarters monitoring Hurricane Dorian and the ‘Waffle House Index’

How much do you know about the Waffle House franchise?

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.

» Updated map: Track Hurricane Dorian's path

» Waffle House, by the numbers

"(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."

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

» Georgians told to evacuate coastal areas ahead of Hurricane Dorian

» Airbnb offering free housing for evacuees, relief workers

Former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate tweeted Friday that the Waffle House Index is green, meaning the full menu is available.

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.

The company’s top executives are gathered at the Waffle House headquarters in Norcross to monitor Hurricane Dorian and coordinate their response.

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

» Georgia counties under a state of emergency

» South Georgia wary of Dorian: 'I don't know if we can stand another one'