During this stand up routine, it is claimed that the American government judges the severity of storms based on whether Waffle House is still open. I was just wondering how much of this video about Waffle House is factual.

I was in Atlanta a few weeks ago and I went to a waffle house that didn't have running water, and instead of closing they just gave me a menu of things they could make without water. I was like this is the consistency I need.

This is so true that the the government FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency, responsible for cleanup after disaster, is right - this is 100 true Google this when you leave all right - has what's called a Waffle House index, okay, and they determine how bad damage is in an area after a storm by whether waffle house is open or closed.

That's true, code green: waffle house is serving full menu. Somewhere there's an intern that frantically runs into an office and says code red, and everyone in that room knows that waffle house is closed.


1 Answer 1


As mentioned in the video this is called the Waffle House Index, and the term was coined by former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate. It is not an official metric used by FEMA to determine the severity of a storm in the same way wind speed/rainfall/etc. are, however it is used informally to measure the health of a community after a disaster and to encourage disaster preparedness.

From a 2012 FEMA blog post:

What do Waffle Houses have to do with risk and disaster management?

As anyone who has heard Administrator Fugate speak once or twice knows, more than you might think. During his days as the head of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management, Craig began to use a simple test to determine how quickly a community might be able to get up and running again after a disaster: The Waffle House test.

If this comparison seems odd at first, think again.

Yesterday, EHS Today, a magazine for environment, health and safety leaders, explained that major companies such as The Home Depot, Walmart, and Waffle House serve as role models in disaster preparedness. They’ve taken necessary steps to prepare. These companies have good risk management plans to ensure that their stores continue to operate when a disaster strikes, and also provide basic supplies to people in their community.


As Craig often says, the Waffle House test doesn’t just tell us how quickly a business might rebound – it also tells us how the larger community is faring. The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can re-open, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again – signaling a stronger recovery for that community.

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