September 1, 2011

Can We Just Make Them FEMA?

What an awesome story in today's WSJ (News Pages):

WELDON, N.C.-- When a hurricane makes landfall, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency relies on a couple of metrics to assess its destructive power.

First, there is the well-known Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. Then there is what he calls the "Waffle House Index."

Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. 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.

We live ten miles from one and have been known to appreciate its rustic charms. But I had no idea that the firm strives to be the first open in an emergency.
The company decided to beef up its crisis-management processes. Senior executives developed a manual for opening after a disaster, bulked up on portable generators, bought a mobile command center and gave employees key fobs with emergency contacts.

In a recent academic paper, Panos Kouvelis, a business-school professor at Washington University in St. Louis, pegged Waffle House as one of the top four companies for disaster response, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Home Depot Inc. and Lowe's Cos.

Waffle House managers say sales volume can double or triple in the aftermath of a storm. The company, whose annual sales are estimated to exceed $600 million, won't discuss the costs or benefits of reopening quickly after disasters. It says its strategy is more about marketing and building goodwill than profits.

America, F*ck Yeah! Posted by John Kranz at September 1, 2011 1:07 PM
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