Waffle House isn’t messing around when it comes to Hurricane Florence. The chain is typically open 24 hours a day, and various locations almost always stay operational during natural disasters, but at least one restaurant in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is expected to close prior to the category 2 storm’s arrival in portions of the east coast.
According to local news station WMBF, the restaurant on Myrtle Beach’s Frontage Road is now “eerily empty” before Florence’s expected landfall. In fact, Waffle House activated its storm center ahead of the hurricane on Tuesday, September 11, sharing a photo on Twitter and writing, “The @WaffleHouse Storm Center is activated and monitoring #Florence. Plan ahead and be safe.”
— Waffle House News (@WaffleHouseNews) September 11, 2018
Believe it or not, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses the operational status of Waffle Houses in a given area as a barometer for disaster recovery. The so-called “Waffle House Index,” which is used to measure the severity of tropical storms and hurricanes in a particular area, means the fast-food chain is considered an essential resource when monitoring natural disasters. A store closure, such as the one in Myrtle Beach, is classified as a code red, and is a good indication that it’s time to evacuate.
Many on social media were understandably surprised to learn of the Waffle House Index and storm center, but pleased to see the restaurant was taking the storm seriously and preparing accordingly. “WAFFLE HOUSE STORM CENTER This is a real thing. Only in America,” wrote one social media user.
Added another: “This is a real thing, and I am glad this company cares so much about hurricane preparedness.”
Though Florence was recently downgraded from a category 4 hurricane to a category 2, CNN reports the storm is still expected to pack a punch – with winds topping 80 mph and a storm surge as high as 9 to 13 feet.
Still, Waffle House is prepared. On Wednesday, September 12, the chain’s Twitter account shared, “Hey Flo… Kiss my grits!”
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!