Waffle House's CEO Is Personally Serving Food To Hurricane Florence First Responders

"The one thing we can do is feed people — so that’s why we’re here," the CEO said of keeping the Wilmington locations open.

Waffle House is serving as a place of reprieve during Hurricane Florence. Several of the restaurant chain's locations have remained open in affected cities like Wilmington, North Carolina in order to provide food, shelter, and a little relief to locals and emergency crew members dealing with the effects of the storm.

As Waffle House president and CEO Walt Ehmer told CBS, the eatery and its staff members are doing their part to provide a semblance of normalcy for residents in the area. "People in the community gotta eat," he said in a video posted to Twitter by correspondent David Begnaud. "First responders have to eat. Our folks need some normalcy in their lives. So the sooner we get back to normal the sooner they get back to normal — and it's one thing we can do for the community."

And Ehmer is taking it upon himself to lead by example. The CEO has not only been present at the Waffle House locations in Wilmington, but is personally serving food to customers and emergency responders. 


Ehmer's efforts are being lauded on social media by locals and public figures in the area. Chef Jose Andres, who traveled to North Carolina to assist in disaster relief efforts, shared photos of the two of them outside a Waffle House, writing "Anybody out there wants a lesson about leadership? Who is in front of beloved @WaffleHouse in Wilmington? Making sure he feeds the hungry? Walt Ehmer, President and CEO.....God Bless!"

This isn't the first time that Waffle House has served as a port during a storm (literally). The diner-style chain often remains open during natural disasters, providing food and resources to first responders and residents who weren't able to evacuate. Over the years, the company has established a hurricane preparation procedure that involves sending "jump teams" from outside affected markets to help local staff ride out the storm. It even has a Waffle House Storm Center that supplies power generators and backup food supplies as necessary.

The restaurant has also historically served as a barometer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess the threat of a storm. Since all of the locations are open 24 hours a day, the agency uses a color-coded indicator, known as "The Waffle House Index," to gauge how well an area will recover from a disaster based on what restaurants are open, closed or offering a limited menu.

Those in states affected by Hurricane Florence can expect to see Waffle Houses continue their services in the coming days. And local diners shouldn't worry about hunting down their credit cards either. in addition to remaining open to provide food and shelter during the storm, Waffle House cut its prices during emergencies,

"All these first responders are here doing all the things they can to help save people and do really important work," Ehmer said in the above video. "The one thing we can do is feed people — so that's why we're here."


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