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Traffic flashes by breakfast diners a a Waffle House near Dawsonville, Ga., Thursday, July 28, 2005. The eating establishment is open 24/7 everyday. There are 1,500 Waffle Houses spread across 25 states, as far west as Arizona and as far north as Illinois, but the chain is still rooted deeply in the South and retains a distinctively down-home, blue-collar aura. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)

Need to know how bad a disaster was? Check if the local Waffle House is still open.


How does FEMA unofficially measure how bad a natural disaster was? 

They check and see if the local Waffle House is still open. 

Waffle House restaurants are notorious for staying open during natural disasters. So if these dining locations close down, that means that things must have been really, really bad. If they stayed open, that means damage to the area was probably minimal. 

This unofficial system is known as the "Waffle House Index." 

After Hurricane Irene hit in 2011, 22 Waffle Houses lost power in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, reports The Wall Street Journal. 

Only one wasn't open by the Wednesday after the storm passed through the area. 

By this unit of measurement, Hurricane Matthew looks like it's going to be awful... 

...and many on Twitter have taken notice. 

Waffle Houses in Florida have closed, but Waffle Houses in South Carolina plan on remaining open, reports Fox News. "When it comes to making the final decision, we let our operations team on the ground, like individual restaurant managers, make the final decision based on local conditions. But our job [as corporate officials] is to give them all the support they need to stay open," said Waffle House's Vice President of Culture Pat Warner. 

The three main things you can do to help in the wake of Hurricane Matthew

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