It was first brought into being after a 2011 tornado devastated the city of Joplin, Missouri. At the time, the (now former) FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said, “If you get there and Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad.”3
The Waffle House Index is simple: Three colors reflect the severity of damage done by a tornado or hurricane. Index level green means that the restaurant is operating at full capacity, serving a full menu with full power. Index level yellow indicates a partial menu, whether due to a supply chain incident, or loss of power. Index level red means that the restaurant is completely closed, whether due to severe damage, or conditions so dangerous that it is impossible to stay open.4
“The Waffle House test doesn’t just tell us how quickly a business might rebound—it also tells us how the larger community is faring. The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can re-open; the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again – signaling a stronger recovery for that community. The success of the private sector in preparing for and weathering disasters is essential to a community’s ability to recover in the long run.”4
Waffle House’s mastery of supply chain and their ability to recover from disaster is certainly impressive—enough so that the government has taken notice of it. The novel coronavirus has caused a “Waffle House Index Red,” as 418 stores nationwide close their doors for the foreseeable future.5 Although the days ahead are uncertain, it can be presumed that those Waffle Houses will open their doors again.
Even more so, a believer should rebound from difficult circumstances. 1 Peter 5:10 states, “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” Christians are called to persevere, as they have more than an excellent supply chain at their back. Instead, they have the Creator of the universe!6
1. Locations. WaffleHouse.com.
2. History. WaffleHouse.com.
3. Preprocessed Waffle House Index. Muckrock. Posted on muckrock.com, accessed April 9, 2020.
4. Stoneking, D. News of the Day—What do Waffle Houses Have to Do with Risk Management? FEMA. Posted on fema.gov June 18, 2012, accessed April 9, 2020.
5. Fieldstadt, E. Coronavirus is a Waffle House ‘Index Red’: Restaurant chain shutters 418 stores. NBC News. Posted on nbcnews.com March 25, 2020, accessed April 9, 2020.
6. Romans 8:18-39.
*Trey Bowling is Customer Service Manager at the Institute for Creation Research.