Waffle House serves hungry customers bacon, eggs and hash browns, but when disaster strikes, the iconic chain serves up valuable intel to the government.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has developed an unofficial, color-coded "Waffle House Index" to help make assessments before sending response teams to areas hit by such natural disasters as tornadoes, floods or hurricanes.
“When business like that are closed, that’s a good indication that resources are probably going to be needed for the survivors there in that area,” explained Will Booher of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management.
After a disaster, officials call a restaurant in the affected area, and ask what's on the menu. If the restaurant is serving everything, it means there is water and electricity and that the index is green. If the menu has been scaled back, the index is yellow, which means there's water but no power. In the rare event a Waffle House is completely shut down, the index is red and that usually means there's big trouble.