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Craig Fugate on the Waffle House Index and Disaster Response

Craig Fugate first coined the term "Waffle House Index" in disaster response when he was the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Basically, the Waffle House Index is an informal metric used by FEMA to determine the effect of a storm, and the likely scale of assistance required for disaster recovery. If you get there and the Waffle House is closed, that's really bad. The measure is based on the reputation of Waffle House for having good disaster preparedness, and staying open during extreme weather, or reopening quickly afterwards.

In this episode we speak with Craig Fugate who is credited with coining the original term. Craig is the former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As Florida Director for the Emergency Management Division, he oversaw the "Big 4 of '04" and as the Administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he organized recovery efforts for a record of eighty-seven disasters in 2011. Craig served as President Barack Obama’s FEMA Administrator from May 2009 to January 2017, led FEMA through multiple record-breaking disaster years, and oversaw the Federal Government’s response to major events such as the Joplin and Moore Tornadoes, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Matthew, and the 2016 Louisiana flooding. Craig is known for setting a clear and compelling vision, mission, and priorities for FEMA, relentlessly driving the Agency to achieve better outcomes for survivors. FEMA’s effectiveness in dealing with more than 500 Presidentially-declared major disasters and emergencies under his leadership restored the faith of the American people in the Federal Government’s ability to respond to disasters. Prior to his tenure at FEMA, Fugate was widely praised for his management, under Governor Jeb Bush, of the devastating effects of the 2004 and 2005 Florida hurricane seasons (Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis, Katrina, and Wilma).


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