Welcome to Mother Nature's Blackout. Have you find any oases of light and cool to get you through the last few days? Let us consider the Waffle House Index:
Its hurricane playbook explains how to reopen a restaurant and what to serve if there is gas but no electricity, or a generator but no ice. An important element is limiting the menu so the company's supply chain can focus on keeping certain items stocked and chilled or frozen.
Waffle House's tenacity and preparedness are so watertight that FEMA Director Craig Fugate has joked that he watches a "Waffle House Index" of disaster magnitude. He can tell how bad a disaster's been by how much of its menu Waffle House is serving. EHS Today specifies the exact parameters of the index, which gained credence when Washington University Business professor Panos Kouvelis conducted a study on the subject:
For example, if a Waffle House store is open and offering a full menu, the index is green. If it is open but serving from a limited menu, it’s yellow. When the location has been forced to close, the index is red. Because Waffle House is well prepared for disasters, Kouvelis said, it’s rare for the index to hit red. For example, the Joplin, Mo., Waffle House survived the tornado and remained open.
On Saturday morning, I stumbled (or rather, my car did) on Valero's at Engle Road and Ardmore Avenue. I had headed out Bluffton Road but got detoured onto Engle by all the downed trees. Annoyed, at first, I was pleasantly surprised to find this gas/convenience store open and thriving amid all the conked-out swelteringness surrounding it. Everybody elese had discovered it, too, so it took me an hour to load up with a large coffee and plenty of snack foods and gas up the car, but it was time well-spent. I used my car's air-conditioning as a "cool room" to take breaks in the rest of the weekend.
Then, later in the day, I found an even bigger oasis -- Southgate Plaza. For all the grief that part of town gets, how pleasing that it should be one of the few places spared by the big blow-through. So I had a place to grab a hot meal on the go once in a while -- a choice of KFC, Burger King and Coney Express. Not the world's greatest variety, but some of the best junk food around.
I dunno, which was worse, the ice storm knockout in 2008, or this year's thunderstorm smackdown? I ended up sort of enjoying the ice storm. With the power out the coldest week of the year, it was a life-threatening situation, so I gathered up my cats and found a pet-friendly hotel for a few days. It became an outing and almost a venture. This is more exasperating than threatening, which makes a hotel less justified, so I just stay home and swelter and suffer.
Always looking for the cool spots. You know where one is? Fort Wayne Newspapers, which was spared. I can take a break from the heat while I work. Sucks. Or maybe not.