Waffle House sending reinforcements to restaurants impacted by Hurricane Florence

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Monday, September 17, 2018
How Waffle House works with FEMA during a disaster
During a severe weather event, FEMA coordinates with Waffle House and other businesses to gauge how communities impacted by disasters are recovering.

WILMINGTON, NC -- Workers with the restaurant chain Waffle House are being brought in from around the country to help keep the company's locations up and running in areas affected by Florence.

Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer was picking up a team at the Wilmington, North Carolina, airport on Monday. Ehmer spoke to The Associated Press by phone.

SEE ALSO: How Waffle House works with FEMA during a disaster like Hurricane Florence

Ehmer says about 150 workers had been brought in as of Monday as part of the company's emergency response team. He says it's part of the company's culture to never close. The extra hands were partly needed because some local workers had to evacuate.

The chain is so well known for staying open no matter what that former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate created the so-called Waffle House Index. Fugate used the restaurants as a benchmark for how quickly local communities could rebound from hurricanes. Under the index, a closed Waffle House was a bad sign.

Ehmer says Waffle House is having to fly some food into Wilmington, which had been largely cut off from road access by Florence's floodwaters.