|What could this building be?|
|One of those huge signature breakfasts|
Which makes for an interesting point when it comes to disaster recovery.
After the 2011 Joplin tornado closed down just about every business in the city except the two Waffle House locations, FEMA director Craig Fugate came up with an interesting way to determine how badly an area had been impacted by a hurricane. He referred to it as the Waffle House Index.
How does it work? Simple.
A disaster happens. You roll into town expecting the worst. To determine how badly the storm affected the area, you drive immediately to the nearest Waffle House and determine its condition.
- Does the restaurant have full power and a full menu? It's not really a disaster.
- If the restaurant has limited power and a limited menu, you had better take the situation more seriously.
- If the restaurant is closed, it's a full-on, according to Hoyle disaster, and you had better rush every single resource to the area as quickly as possible.
While this did elicit a chuckle from reporters, it did point out an interesting concept for for emergency managers. There are degrees of a disaster. From the inconvenience of losing power for a few days to total leveling of wide swaths of a state, there are many different levels of response required, and each necessitates a proportionate reaction.
Each also requires clear communication to residents when it comes to telling them about how much relief is going to be headed their way. If a resident just has to head two blocks over to buy ice from an open grocery store, there's a good chance that a ton of federal and state aid isn't going to be flowing their way anytime soon. If, on the other hand, large commercial buildings like grocery stores are flattened, you can bet the amount of aid is going to be considerably larger.
Getting residents to understand this and prepare accordingly? Well, we may need to sit down over breakfast one day to talk about the best way to communicate that.
Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida