All eyes on storm – and Waf­fle House

If the 24/7 diner is closed, you know it’s bad.

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Ash­ley May Sean Ross­man con­trib­uted to this story. Fol­low Ash­ley May on Twitter: @Ash­leyMayTweets

The Waf­fle House Storm Cen­ter is ac­tively mon­i­tor­ing Hur­ri­cane Florence, an in­di­ca­tor that parts of the East Coast are in se­ri­ous dan­ger.

That’s be­cause the 24-hour restau­rant chain is known for more than a fast break­fast – it of­ten re­mains open dur­ing nat­u­ral disas­ters, pro­vid­ing food and re­sources to first re­spon­ders.

The Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency even mon­i­tors a “Waf­fle House Index,” a color-coded in­di­ca­tor of what restau­rants are open, closed or of­fer­ing a lim­ited menu, to gauge how well an area will re­cover from a hur­ri­cane, tor­nado or other haz­ard.

“The Waf­fle House test just doesn’t tell us how quickly a busi­ness might re­bound – it also tells how the larger com- mu­nity is far­ing,” a FEMA blog post from 2011 states. “The sooner restau­rants, gro­cery and cor­ner stores or banks can re­open, the sooner lo­cal economies will start gen­er­at­ing rev­enue again – sig­nal­ing a strong re­cov­ery for that com­mu­nity.”

Tues­day, Waf­fle House an­nounced its Storm Cen­ter was ac­tive and mon­i­tor­ing Florence. The team also asked peo­ple to “plan ahead and be safe.”

Florence has di­min­ished to a Cat­e­gory 2 hur­ri­cane but is still con­sid­ered “life-threat­en­ing,” ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice. More than a mil­lion peo­ple have been evac­u­ated from the pro­jected path of the storm, set to make land­fall along the Caroli­nas early Fri­day.

USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

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