Waffle House closing 21 Florida stores for Hurricane Ian is 'time to panic'

Florida has spent days bracing for Hurricane Ian, which made landfall on Wednesday afternoon as a Class 4 storm. Each Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency forward of the storm, and residents in Ian’s path had been urged to evacuate as greater than 1 million houses had been estimated to be susceptible to injury from the hurricane-force winds, storm surge and heavy rainfall. 

However you recognize issues are getting actually critical when Waffle Home closes. And Njeri Boss, vp of public relations at Waffle Home, advised MarketWatch over e mail that 21 Waffle Home areas had been closed throughout Florida on Wednesday as a result of they had been within the direct path of the storm, with a number of positioned in low-lying, flood-prone areas.

“We proceed to watch climate circumstances, work intently with native authorities officers, emergency administration groups and our native management within the area to make acceptable selections based mostly on the circumstances in every location,” Boss added.

The information stirred up a Twitter storm, main “Waffle Home” to rank among the many prime Twitter developments on Wednesday, together with “Florida” and “Hurricane Ian.”

That’s as a result of the restaurant chain is famend for dishing diner-style breakfast fare 24/7, 12 months a yr — and is mostly thought-about well-equipped for pure disasters. The truth is, former Federal Emergency Administration Company (FEMA) director Craig Fugate, who as soon as ran Florida’s Division of Emergency Administration, famously coined the time period “Waffle Home Index” to find out the severity of storms. And this is because of the truth that Waffle Home hardly ever closes.

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The casual Waffle Home Index states: 

  • If a Waffle Home is open and serving a full menu, storm injury is probably going minimal, and the index is inexperienced. 

  • If a Waffle Home is open however dishing a restricted menu, the realm might be struggling points like energy outages or no working water, and the index is yellow. 

  • If a Waffle Home location is pressured to shut, the index is pink, which means the realm was severely hit and struggling to get well.

And many individuals figuring out as Floridians or Southerners on Twitter would agree. “People who find themselves not from right here and don’t know in regards to the [Waffle House] Index don’t understand how critical of a ‘oh f—‘ that is,” tweeted one.

“You already know what they are saying: Florida doesn’t begin panicking about hurricanes till the Waffle Home closes,” tweeted Washington Put up op-ed author Holly Figueroa O’Reilly.

Boss additionally advised MarketWatch that the Waffle Home Index “doesn’t actually belong to us,” including that it was created by FEMA’s former director “as a easy to means to assist FEMA employees to evaluate the injury to a neighborhood AFTER a hurricane hits and it’s secure to return to the realm.”

And Boss famous that individuals shouldn’t discuss with any “Waffle Home Index” for instructions on what to do forward of an approaching storm. “We’d hope that residents heed the warnings of their native authorities officers and take the mandatory precautions to remain secure,” mentioned Boss.

Nonetheless, a lot on Twitter turned to comedian aid for some levity within the face of the strengthening storm by sharing memes and jokes in regards to the ominous significance of greater than 20 Waffle Home eating places closing their doorways.

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Right here’s a sampling of a few of these tweets. Some include robust language. 

Even former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted Wednesday that, “When Waffle Home closes a location, a storm is catastrophic.” 

All Waffle Home jokes apart, the state of affairs is grave. About 2.5 million folks had been ordered to evacuate southwest Florida earlier than Hurricane Ian hit the coast Wednesday with most sustained winds of 150 mph. It was heading inland, the place it was anticipated to weaken, however residents in central Florida may nonetheless expertise hurricane-force winds.

Learn extra about Hurricane Ian and its potential impression elsewhere on MarketWatch:

1 million houses in Florida are susceptible to storm injury due to Hurricane Ian

U.S. oil costs climb again above $80 as Hurricane Ian forces manufacturing cuts

Hurricane Ian nears a extreme Class 5 rating. Listed below are the classes defined.

Late-hitting Ian retains costly and high-risk hurricane season on observe, fueled by local weather change

5 causes retirement favourite Tampa is more and more in danger from hurricanes and climate-change impression

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