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Dr. Helen

The Waffle House Index

August 15th, 2013 - 5:58 am

It seems that Waffle House is teaching FEMA a thing or two about disasters (thanks for the link Brad):

Waffle House is so well known for its resiliency that the US government’s disaster relief organization, FEMA, uses the chain as a sensor network to make post-disaster damage assessments. After disasters, like the recent devastating tornado in Oklahoma, FEMA officials will use the so-called “Waffle House Index,” calling every Waffle House location in the area to gather two pieces of data: Are they open? Are they serving a limited menu? Based on this information, they color-code each diner: red for closed, yellow for open but with a limited menu, and green for open. By mapping the data, responders can quickly establish the location and extent of the damage.

We could learn a thing or two from Waffle House. First, resiliency requires adaptation, and adaption requires data. Waffle Houses are not stocked for all disasters, rather the company carefully tracks weather and other information so when a disaster is approaching they have the situational awareness to pre-position supplies close to the danger zone. They are a real-world example of resiliency through data.

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Top Rated Comments   
The most useless driving directions in the Atlanta area: "Turn by the Waffle House on Peach Tree." The area has more Waffle Houses and more roads with Peach Tree in the name than I could keep straight. I remember once stopping in a Waffle House parking lot to make a cell phone call. I looked up, and there in the distance down that same road was another Waffle House.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I attended Ga. Tech in Atlanta, where Waffle House is a force of nature, and one of my favorite greasy spoons. (Great Grits, y'all).
It is worth noting that Waffle House stores are not staffed by rocket scientist; instead by ordinary working folk trying to make a living. They don't over think things, nor do they over Credential themselves. They just come to work and do the job.
FEMA, and most other government orgs could learn a lot from that idea.
Finally, having seen more than a few FEMA clusters, I have concluded that they exacerbate the problem...every time....Disaster Relief has become an industry in and of itself...and widely not needed.
ta
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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This is an outrage--there are no Waffle Houses in San Francisco. Something Must Be Done--we need a law forcing Waffle House to do business (and pay a fair living wage) in any region prone to disasters. Harumph.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's just a sign that US forces should withdraw immediately from SF, it's an unmitigated disaster.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
San Francisco has turned into a quagmire. We need to declare victory and airlift the last few Americans from the rooftops.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I suppose the gubmint would just substitute with an IHOP Index for SF and the rest of CA.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I read or heard many years ago that Waffle House pays wages low enough that with their pricing structure (they use one menu everywhere in the country) they would lose money every day at every location in California...

Of course, that's the ideal business as far as a California Democrat is concerned...maybe we're on to something here...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In/after a disaster, I'd MUCH rather have the Salvation Army show up on my doorstep than FEMA. That said, FEMA could play a decent role in helping people after a disaster. It would consist of showing up immediately after with lots of equipment. Skid steer loaders, generators, shop vacs, tools, that sort of thing. Plus tanks of water. And then GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY. I've been through two SHTF scenarios where FEMA showed up, and while their material assistance was appreciated their "expertise" (read: ordering us around like grade schoolers) was definitely NOT. Especially when one of their loader operators badly damaged a house. *I* could drive one of those better than that, and I've never sat in the seat of one.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
FEMA? If we are to live in perpetual war I'd prefer a return to Civil Defense, I think.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I would think that Home Depot, Lowe's, and Wal-Mart would be an even better indicator. Those stores ALWAYS lay in supplies ahead of a hurricane - generators, plywood, bottled water, etc.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Once again Private Industry trumps government "help." You could set your watch by it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I attended Ga. Tech in Atlanta, where Waffle House is a force of nature, and one of my favorite greasy spoons. (Great Grits, y'all).
It is worth noting that Waffle House stores are not staffed by rocket scientist; instead by ordinary working folk trying to make a living. They don't over think things, nor do they over Credential themselves. They just come to work and do the job.
FEMA, and most other government orgs could learn a lot from that idea.
Finally, having seen more than a few FEMA clusters, I have concluded that they exacerbate the problem...every time....Disaster Relief has become an industry in and of itself...and widely not needed.
ta
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The most useless driving directions in the Atlanta area: "Turn by the Waffle House on Peach Tree." The area has more Waffle Houses and more roads with Peach Tree in the name than I could keep straight. I remember once stopping in a Waffle House parking lot to make a cell phone call. I looked up, and there in the distance down that same road was another Waffle House.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Many Interstate exits have a WH on each corner.
In my school days, WH was THE place for late Saturday night chow.

There is a trick to the Peach Tree dilemma. It is little known, there being so much fun in watching Yankees go round 'n round. lol.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
However, at least in Cobb County, there is a known reference point from which all directions start: The Big Chicken...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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