Waffle House closes 21 locations in Florida as Hurricane Ian sets in

As a sign of the severity of Hurricane IanWaffle House told NBC News on Wednesday it had closed 21 Florida locations that were in the path of the Category 4 storm.

Over the years, Waffle House has earned a reputation for staying open in all but the most dire of circumstances, providing food and drink to emergency crews and those dealing with natural disasters.

Waffle House spokesman Njeri Boss said in an email that most of the affected locations were in the hurricane’s predicted path, with a few others in low-lying floodplains.

The previous yearsthe Federal Emergency Management Agency used an unofficial “Waffle House Index” in part to help assess damage in disaster areas.

“If a Waffle House can serve a full menu, chances are it’s powered (or running on a generator),” FEMA wrote on its blog in 2017. “A limited menu means an area may not have running water or electricity, but there is gas for the stove to make bacon, eggs and coffee: just what hungry and tired people need.

A FEMA representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ian was expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon near Cape Coral, Fla., bringing 155 mph winds and up to 16 feet of storm surge to some coastal areas.

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