2 Dead, 700,000 Without Power As Damages From "Nightmare" Michael Top $20 Billion

Another woman who spoke with CNN said Mexico Beach looked like "a nightmare."

"It feels like a nightmare," Linda Albrecht, a councilwoman in Mexico Beach, Florida, said of the catastrophic damage in her town. "Somebody needs to come up and shake you and wake you up."

But in what was perhaps the most telling sign of Michael's intensity, the New York Post reported that 18 Waffle House restaurants in the storm's strike zone would close for the storm - something that only happens during the most acute natural disasters.

Indeed, Waffle House's disaster preparedness strategies are so effective that FEMA unofficially uses Waffle House closures as a barometer for a disaster's intensity. 

The "Waffle House Index" has three color-coded levels: Green means the restaurant is open and serving a full menu; yellow indicates the menu has been scaled back and there may be water but no power; and red indicates the restaurant is completely shut down and the area is likely in need of serious assistance.

Michael will be with us for another day or two. It's not expected to move offshore until Friday, having swept over much of Georgia as a hurricane and then North and South Carolina as a tropical storm.

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