OK, things are starting to get serious. For days now, hype has been building up around Hurricane Matthew, a “potentially catastrophic,” “Sandy-like” storm heading toward Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. And while warnings that grave are generally enough to make business start boarding up the windows, Waffle House—the southern restaurant chain famous for staying open during severe weather—said that it hoped to maintain operations this week, like a shining, yellow beacon of hope filled with cheese grits and pecan pie.
Well, on Thursday, the Georgia-based company announced that it would temporarily close its restaurants restaurants on 1-95 between Titusville and Fort Pierce, Florida, clearly signaling the end of times.
The chain broke the news on Thursday via Twitter, and almost immediately concerned customers were in the mentions expressing their fear and terror.
Over the years, as the country has suffered a number of natural disasters, experts have developed a system called the Waffle House Index. Essentially, when Waffle Houses start to close, that’s when the area is really in trouble. Experts have even color-coded the system based on how functional a city’s Waffle House is during a storm.
“Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on,” Craig Fuguate, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told the Wall Street Journal in 2011. “Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions."
Be safe out there, Floridians.