How Waffle House Is Being Used To Gauge Storm Severity | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

How Waffle House Is Being Used To Gauge Storm Severity | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC
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    >>> WELCOME BACK.
    >>> WELCOME BACK. I'M STEPHANIE RUHLE.
    I'M STEPHANIE RUHLE. HERE'S A QUESTION.
    HERE'S A QUESTION. WHAT DOES WAFFLE HOUSE HAVE TO
    WHAT DOES WAFFLE HOUSE HAVE TO DO WITH HURRICANES?
    DO WITH HURRICANES? TURNS OUT IF YOU WANT TO KNOW
    TURNS OUT IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW BAD A STORM IS GOING TO BE,
    HOW BAD A STORM IS GOING TO BE, JUST SEE IF THE LOCAL WAFFLE
    JUST SEE IF THE LOCAL WAFFLE HOUSE IS STILL SERVING BREAKFAST
    HOUSE IS STILL SERVING BREAKFAST BREAKFAST.
    BREAKFAST. IF THEY'RE CLOSED, WATCH OUT.
    IF THEY'RE CLOSED, WATCH OUT. WHY?
    WHY? BECAUSE THEY ALMOST NEVER CLOSE.
    BECAUSE THEY ALMOST NEVER CLOSE. THE JOPLIN, MISSOURI, TORNADO IN
    THE JOPLIN, MISSOURI, TORNADO IN 2011, IT WIPED OUT HUNDREDS OF
    2011, IT WIPED OUT HUNDREDS OF BUSINESSES.
    BUSINESSES. BOTH WAFFLE HOUSES IN TOWN
    BOTH WAFFLE HOUSES IN TOWN STAYED OPEN.
    STAYED OPEN. WHEN A BLIZZARD HIT LANCASTER
    WHEN A BLIZZARD HIT LANCASTER PENNSYLVANIA IN 2010, WAFFLE
    PENNSYLVANIA IN 2010, WAFFLE HOUSE WAS OPEN.
    HOUSE WAS OPEN. 24 HOURS BEFORE HURRICANE IRMA
    24 HOURS BEFORE HURRICANE IRMA FLOODED JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA,
    FLOODED JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, IN 2017, STANDING ROOM ONLY IN
    IN 2017, STANDING ROOM ONLY IN THE WAFFLE HOUSE.
    THE WAFFLE HOUSE. EVEN FEDERAL OFFICIALS NOW KEEP
    EVEN FEDERAL OFFICIALS NOW KEEP AN EYE ON THEM AS A WAY OF
    AN EYE ON THEM AS A WAY OF DETERMINING HOW LOCAL
    DETERMINING HOW LOCAL COMMUNITIES ARE STANDING UP TO
    COMMUNITIES ARE STANDING UP TO MOTHER NATURE.
    MOTHER NATURE. THERE'S EVEN A WAFFLE HOUSE
    THERE'S EVEN A WAFFLE HOUSE INDEX.
    INDEX. FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR CRAIG
    FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR CRAIG FUGATE CAME UP WITH IT AND
    FUGATE CAME UP WITH IT AND DESCRIBED IT ON NPR.
    DESCRIBED IT ON NPR. >> THEY ARE OPEN MOST OF THE
    >> THEY ARE OPEN MOST OF THE TIME.
    TIME. AND THAT WAS THE INDEX.
    AND THAT WAS THE INDEX. IF A WAFFLE HOUSE IS CLOSED
    IF A WAFFLE HOUSE IS CLOSED BECAUSE THERE'S A DISASTER, IT'S
    BECAUSE THERE'S A DISASTER, IT'S BAD.
    BAD. WE CALL IT RED.
    WE CALL IT RED. IF THEY'RE OPEN BUT HAVE A
    IF THEY'RE OPEN BUT HAVE A LIMITED MENU, THAT'S YELLOW
    LIMITED MENU, THAT'S YELLOW BECAUSE THEY LOST POWER.
    BECAUSE THEY LOST POWER. >> ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT.
    >> ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT. AND THEY HAVE REGULAR MENU,
    AND THEY HAVE REGULAR MENU, EVERYTHING'S FINE?
    EVERYTHING'S FINE? >> THEY'RE GREEN, WE'RE GOOD,
    >> THEY'RE GREEN, WE'RE GOOD, KEEP GOING, YOU HAVEN'T FOUND
    KEEP GOING, YOU HAVEN'T FOUND THE BAD STUFF YET.
    THE BAD STUFF YET. >> IF THEY'VE GOT A FULL MENU,
    >> IF THEY'VE GOT A FULL MENU, WE'RE GOOD TO GO.
    WE'RE GOOD TO GO. WALT EHMER IS THE CEO OF WAFFLE
    WALT EHMER IS THE CEO OF WAFFLE HOUSE.
    HOUSE. HE JOINS ME ON THE PHONE FROM
    HE JOINS ME ON THE PHONE FROM NORTH CAROLINA.
    NORTH CAROLINA. ALONG WITH BRENDAN GREELY, OF
    ALONG WITH BRENDAN GREELY, OF "THE FINANCIAL TIMES."
    "THE FINANCIAL TIMES." IF WAFFLE HOUSES TELL US HOW BAD
    IF WAFFLE HOUSES TELL US HOW BAD THE STORM IS GOING TO BE, HOW
    THE STORM IS GOING TO BE, HOW MANY, IF ANY, ARE CLOSED IN THE
    MANY, IF ANY, ARE CLOSED IN THE PATH OF HURRICANE FLORENCE?
    PATH OF HURRICANE FLORENCE? >> WELL, WE'RE ACTUALLY DOING
    >> WELL, WE'RE ACTUALLY DOING PRETTY WELL RIGHT NOW.
    PRETTY WELL RIGHT NOW. WE ONLY HAVE A COUPLE OF THEM
    WE ONLY HAVE A COUPLE OF THEM CLOSED.
    CLOSED. THE ONES THAT ARE RIGHT ALONG
    THE ONES THAT ARE RIGHT ALONG THE BEACH.
    THE BEACH. MOST OF OUR RESTAURANTS
    MOST OF OUR RESTAURANTS FORTUNATELY ARE A LITTLE BIT OFF
    FORTUNATELY ARE A LITTLE BIT OFF THE WATER.
    THE WATER. SO WE'RE ABLE TO KEEP JUST ABOUT
    SO WE'RE ABLE TO KEEP JUST ABOUT ALL OF THEM OPEN RIGHT NOW.
    ALL OF THEM OPEN RIGHT NOW. AND WE'RE BUSY.
    AND WE'RE BUSY. >> AND HOW EXACTLY HAS THE
    >> AND HOW EXACTLY HAS THE WAFFLE HOUSE BECOME, I DON'T
    WAFFLE HOUSE BECOME, I DON'T KNOW, CALL IT THE GOLD STANDARD
    KNOW, CALL IT THE GOLD STANDARD FOR FIGURING OUT HOW TO WEATHER
    FOR FIGURING OUT HOW TO WEATHER THESE BIG STORMS.
    THESE BIG STORMS. >> I TELL PEOPLE ALL THE TIME, I
    >> I TELL PEOPLE ALL THE TIME, I SAID, WE'RE REALLY NOT THAT
    SAID, WE'RE REALLY NOT THAT SMART, WE'RE NOT THAT
    SMART, WE'RE NOT THAT COMPLICATED.
    COMPLICATED. WE JUST HAVE A LOT OF WANT TO.
    WE JUST HAVE A LOT OF WANT TO. WE WANT TO BE THERE FOR
    WE WANT TO BE THERE FOR COMMUNITY.
    COMMUNITY. WE WANT TO BE THERE FOR OUR
    WE WANT TO BE THERE FOR OUR PEOPLE.
    PEOPLE. WE WANT TO BE THERE FOR THE
    WE WANT TO BE THERE FOR THE FIRST RESPONDERS.
    FIRST RESPONDERS. SO WE JUST SHOW UP AND GET TO
    SO WE JUST SHOW UP AND GET TO WORK AND WORK REALLY HARD.
    WORK AND WORK REALLY HARD. AND OVER TIME, I THINK PEOPLE
    AND OVER TIME, I THINK PEOPLE STARTED TO RECOGNIZE IN PLACES
    STARTED TO RECOGNIZE IN PLACES LIKE EVEN WHERE I AM, WHERE I AM
    LIKE EVEN WHERE I AM, WHERE I AM IN CHARLESTON, THERE'S NOBODY
    IN CHARLESTON, THERE'S NOBODY OPEN BUT US.
    OPEN BUT US. IT JUST BECAME KIND OF A LITTLE
    IT JUST BECAME KIND OF A LITTLE FOLKLORE OVER TIME.
    FOLKLORE OVER TIME. I HEARD CRAIG FUGATE'S VOICE ON
    I HEARD CRAIG FUGATE'S VOICE ON THE PHONE.
    THE PHONE. UNFORTUNATELY, HE'S RETIRED.
    UNFORTUNATELY, HE'S RETIRED. BUT HE GAVE US A LOT OF
    BUT HE GAVE US A LOT OF ATTENTION WHEN HE MENTIONED US.
    ATTENTION WHEN HE MENTIONED US. I THINK THAT'S HOW HE GOT
    I THINK THAT'S HOW HE GOT STARTED.
    STARTED. >> JUST THERE ON THE SCREEN, WE
    >> JUST THERE ON THE SCREEN, WE SHOWED YOUR SORT OF COMMAND
    SHOWED YOUR SORT OF COMMAND CENTER WHERE YOUR TEAM MONITORS
    CENTER WHERE YOUR TEAM MONITORS THE STORMS.
    THE STORMS. HOW CAN YOU ENSURE -- I KNOW YOU
    HOW CAN YOU ENSURE -- I KNOW YOU WANT TO ENSURE THE COMMUNITY AND
    WANT TO ENSURE THE COMMUNITY AND THE FIRST RESPONDERS BUT YOU'VE
    THE FIRST RESPONDERS BUT YOU'VE GOT AN AWFUL LOT OF EMPLOYEES
    GOT AN AWFUL LOT OF EMPLOYEES WHO ARE NOT AT HOME WITH THEIR
    WHO ARE NOT AT HOME WITH THEIR FAMILIES, THEY HAVE NOT
    FAMILIES, THEY HAVE NOT EVACUATED.
    EVACUATED. HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THEY'RE
    HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THEY'RE SAFE?
    SAFE? >> OUR FIRST CONCERN IS THEIR
    >> OUR FIRST CONCERN IS THEIR SAFETY.
    SAFETY. THE FOLKS WHO WORK FOR US WHO
    THE FOLKS WHO WORK FOR US WHO ARE IN PLACES THAT ARE UNSAFE, A
    ARE IN PLACES THAT ARE UNSAFE, A LOT OF THEM DO LEAVE SO WE BRING
    LOT OF THEM DO LEAVE SO WE BRING IN OUR MANAGEMENT FROM AROUND
    IN OUR MANAGEMENT FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY TO SUPPORT THE
    THE COUNTRY TO SUPPORT THE OPERATIONS.
    OPERATIONS. AND THEN WE BUY A WHOLE LOT OF
    AND THEN WE BUY A WHOLE LOT OF HOTEL ROOMS IN SAFE AREAS.
    HOTEL ROOMS IN SAFE AREAS. I THINK WE'RE UP TO A COUPLE
    I THINK WE'RE UP TO A COUPLE HUNDRED, MAYBE 250 HOTEL ROOMS
    HUNDRED, MAYBE 250 HOTEL ROOMS RIGHT NOW WHERE OUR PEOPLE FROM
    RIGHT NOW WHERE OUR PEOPLE FROM OUT OF TOWN ARE STAYING.
    OUT OF TOWN ARE STAYING. A LOT OF OUR LOCAL ASSOCIATES
    A LOT OF OUR LOCAL ASSOCIATES ARE STAYING AS WELL.
    ARE STAYING AS WELL. A LOT OF OUR FOLKS DO LEAVE.
    A LOT OF OUR FOLKS DO LEAVE. AND WE FIRST ASK THEM TO MAKE
    AND WE FIRST ASK THEM TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY AND THEIR
    SURE THAT THEY AND THEIR FAMILIES ARE SAFE.
    FAMILIES ARE SAFE. BUT WE TEND TO PUT PEOPLE IN
    BUT WE TEND TO PUT PEOPLE IN PLACES THAT ARE MUCH SAFE.
    PLACES THAT ARE MUCH SAFE. IF ANYBODY WANTS TO LEAVE, WE
    IF ANYBODY WANTS TO LEAVE, WE LET THEM LEAVE AND SUPPLEMENT
    LET THEM LEAVE AND SUPPLEMENT FROM PEOPLE AROUND THE COUNTRY.
    FROM PEOPLE AROUND THE COUNTRY. >> I'M A MASSIVE FAN, I TAKE MY
    >> I'M A MASSIVE FAN, I TAKE MY EGGS SMOTHERED.
    EGGS SMOTHERED. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE
    CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE LOGISTICS OF HOW YOU MAKE SURE,
    LOGISTICS OF HOW YOU MAKE SURE, FOR EXAMPLE, THE COMMUNICATIONS
    FOR EXAMPLE, THE COMMUNICATIONS ARE IN PLACE?
    ARE IN PLACE? AND ALSO YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE
    AND ALSO YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE ALL OF THE EGGS ARE THERE, THAT
    ALL OF THE EGGS ARE THERE, THAT THE INGREDIENTS ARE THERE, YOU
    THE INGREDIENTS ARE THERE, YOU KNOW, IN THE EVENT THAT SUPPLY
    KNOW, IN THE EVENT THAT SUPPLY CHAINS ARE DISRUPTED.
    CHAINS ARE DISRUPTED. HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THE STORES
    HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THE STORES THAT ARE OPEN CAN ACTUALLY SERVE
    THAT ARE OPEN CAN ACTUALLY SERVE EGGS.
    EGGS. >> AND WAFFLES.
    >> AND WAFFLES. >> WELL, FORTUNATELY -- YES,
    >> WELL, FORTUNATELY -- YES, HELLO.
    HELLO. >> PLEASE, CONTINUE.
    >> PLEASE, CONTINUE. >> I'M SORRY.
    >> I'M SORRY. FORTUNATELY WITH THINGS LIKE
    FORTUNATELY WITH THINGS LIKE THESE HURRICANES, WE HAVE PLENTY
    THESE HURRICANES, WE HAVE PLENTY OF NOTICE.
    OF NOTICE. YOU MENTIONED A COUPLE TORNADOES
    YOU MENTIONED A COUPLE TORNADOES THERE.
    THERE. THOSE ARE CHALLENGING.
    THOSE ARE CHALLENGING. WITH HURRICANES, WE HAVE SOME
    WITH HURRICANES, WE HAVE SOME NOTICE SO WE MOBILIZE A LOT OF
    NOTICE SO WE MOBILIZE A LOT OF RESOURCES AHEAD OF THE STORM AND
    RESOURCES AHEAD OF THE STORM AND BRING IN A LOT OF EXTRA
    BRING IN A LOT OF EXTRA SUPPLIES, EXTRA FOOD.
    SUPPLIES, EXTRA FOOD. THOSE FOLKS YOU SAW SITTING
    THOSE FOLKS YOU SAW SITTING AROUND THE TABLE ARE KIND OF THE
    AROUND THE TABLE ARE KIND OF THE COMMAND CENTER TO CALL A LOT OF
    COMMAND CENTER TO CALL A LOT OF PLAYS.
    PLAYS. MOSTLY OUR MANAGEMENT TEAM IS
    MOSTLY OUR MANAGEMENT TEAM IS OUT IN THE FIELD IN THE
    OUT IN THE FIELD IN THE RESTAURANTS WHERE WE CAN ASSESS
    RESTAURANTS WHERE WE CAN ASSESS WHAT WE HAVE AND WHAT WE NEED.
    WHAT WE HAVE AND WHAT WE NEED. AND WE TRY TO GET AS MUCH LOADED
    AND WE TRY TO GET AS MUCH LOADED INTO THE RESTAURANTS AHEAD OF
    INTO THE RESTAURANTS AHEAD OF THE STORMS AND PREPARE WITH
    THE STORMS AND PREPARE WITH GENERATORS AND CONSTRUCTION
    GENERATORS AND CONSTRUCTION FOLKS AND ELECTRICIANS AND ALL
    FOLKS AND ELECTRICIANS AND ALL THE RESOURCES WE NEED, WE TRY TO
    THE RESOURCES WE NEED, WE TRY TO STAGE NEARBY SO THAT WHEN THE
    STAGE NEARBY SO THAT WHEN THE STORM FINALLY DOES COME IN, WE
    STORM FINALLY DOES COME IN, WE ARE -- WE'RE SUPPLIED AHEAD OF
    ARE -- WE'RE SUPPLIED AHEAD OF TIME AND THEN WE ALSO HAVE SOME
    TIME AND THEN WE ALSO HAVE SOME GREAT SUPPLIERS WE WORK WITH
    GREAT SUPPLIERS WE WORK WITH THAT HELP US OUT ON THE BACK END
    THAT HELP US OUT ON THE BACK END BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE THE ONLY ACT
    BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE THE ONLY ACT IN TOWN, YOU TEND TO GO THROUGH
    IN TOWN, YOU TEND TO GO THROUGH A LOT OF FOOD PRETTY QUICKLY.
    A LOT OF FOOD PRETTY QUICKLY. THERE IS A PRETTY BIG LOGISTICAL
    THERE IS A PRETTY BIG LOGISTICAL CHALLENGE.
    CHALLENGE. PROBABLY THE BIGGER CHALLENGE
    PROBABLY THE BIGGER CHALLENGE FOR US IS THE PEOPLE LOGISTICAL
    FOR US IS THE PEOPLE LOGISTICAL CHALLENGES.
    CHALLENGES. IS GETTING THEM ALL IN HERE,
    IS GETTING THEM ALL IN HERE, FINDING THEM PLACES TO STAY.
    FINDING THEM PLACES TO STAY. RENTAL CARS.
    RENTAL CARS. DEPLOYING THEM TO THE COUPLE
    DEPLOYING THEM TO THE COUPLE HUNDRED RESTAURANTS WE HAVE IN
    HUNDRED RESTAURANTS WE HAVE IN THIS AFFECTED AREA.
    THIS AFFECTED AREA. THERE IS A LOT OF WORK THAT GOES
    THERE IS A LOT OF WORK THAT GOES INTO PLACE.
    INTO PLACE. I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WE'RE
    I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WE'RE REALLY GOOD AT IT.
    REALLY GOOD AT IT. WE TRY TO GET BETTER EVERY TIME.
    WE TRY TO GET BETTER EVERY TIME. EVERY ONE OF THESE THINGS IS A
    EVERY ONE OF THESE THINGS IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT.
    LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT. >> WE APPRECIATE IT.
    >> WE APPRECIATE IT. YOU'RE LIVING UP TO THE TERM
    YOU'RE LIVING UP TO THE TERM "COMFORT FOOD."
    "COMFORT FOOD." REALLY CREATING A SAFE HAVEN.
    REALLY CREATING A SAFE HAVEN. HELP US UNDERSTAND, HOW HIGH IS
    HELP US UNDERSTAND, HOW HIGH IS THE BAR FOR YOU TO CLOSE A
    THE BAR FOR YOU TO CLOSE A RESTAURANT IN TERMS OF WEATHER
    RESTAURANT IN TERMS OF WEATHER DANGER?
    DANGER? >> WELL, YOU KNOW, CERTAINLY WE
    >> WELL, YOU KNOW, CERTAINLY WE WORK CLOSELY WITH THE LOCAL
    WORK CLOSELY WITH THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES.
    AUTHORITIES. WHEN THEY COME BY AND TELL US
    WHEN THEY COME BY AND TELL US THAT WE ARE IN A DANGEROUS
    THAT WE ARE IN A DANGEROUS PLACE, WE WILL CLOSE DOWN.
    PLACE, WE WILL CLOSE DOWN. SO WE HAVE DEVELOPED REALLY GOOD
    SO WE HAVE DEVELOPED REALLY GOOD RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE FEMA
    RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE FEMA FOLKS AND ALL THE LOCAL AND
    FOLKS AND ALL THE LOCAL AND STATE AGENCIES THAT WE -- WHERE
    STATE AGENCIES THAT WE -- WHERE WE OPERATE.
    WE OPERATE. SO WE'VE GOT GOOD COMMUNICATIONS
    SO WE'VE GOT GOOD COMMUNICATIONS WITH THEM.
    WITH THEM. AND WE KNOW WHERE OUR
    AND WE KNOW WHERE OUR RESTAURANTS ARE THAT MIGHT BE IN
    RESTAURANTS ARE THAT MIGHT BE IN HARM'S WAY.
    HARM'S WAY. THAT WOULD CAUSE US TO CLOSE IT
    THAT WOULD CAUSE US TO CLOSE IT DOWN.
    DOWN. AND THEN, YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY
    AND THEN, YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY WHEN THE STORM IS REALLY ROLLING
    WHEN THE STORM IS REALLY ROLLING IN, NEAR THE EYE OF THE STORM,
    IN, NEAR THE EYE OF THE STORM, WE WILL PROBABLY SHUT DOWN JUST
    WE WILL PROBABLY SHUT DOWN JUST TO MAKE SURE OUR FOLKS ARE
    TO MAKE SURE OUR FOLKS ARE SHELTERING IN A SAFE PLACE.
    SHELTERING IN A SAFE PLACE. BUT WE DON'T TRY TO GET TOO FAR
    BUT WE DON'T TRY TO GET TOO FAR AWAY SO WE CAN GET BACK IN THERE
    AWAY SO WE CAN GET BACK IN THERE QUICK.
    QUICK. IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, ALL THESE
    IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, ALL THESE FIRST RESPONDERS AND THE FOLKS
    FIRST RESPONDERS AND THE FOLKS WHO DID CHOOSE TO STAY BEHIND,
    WHO DID CHOOSE TO STAY BEHIND, THERE'S NO OTHER PLACE FOR THEM
    THERE'S NO OTHER PLACE FOR THEM TO GET ANY FOOD.
    TO GET ANY FOOD. SO WE SENSE SOMEWHAT OF AN
    SO WE SENSE SOMEWHAT OF AN OBLIGATION AT THIS POINT.
    OBLIGATION AT THIS POINT. IT'S A HUGE PART OF OUR CULTURE
    IT'S A HUGE PART OF OUR CULTURE TO BE THERE FOR THE COMMUNITY
    TO BE THERE FOR THE COMMUNITY ALL THE TIME.
    ALL THE TIME. I GUESS THAT COMES FROM WORKING
    I GUESS THAT COMES FROM WORKING FOR A RESTAURANT CHAIN THAT
    FOR A RESTAURANT CHAIN THAT NEVER CLOSES.
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