Editorial: Timely service isn’t too high a standard
For those new to the Sierra, a heavy winter storm – one which knocks out power for days, results in lengthy poor road conditions, and otherwise creates headaches for residents – can be a kick in the pants. Longtime residents, especially town elders, will tell you that’s just how it is sometimes, that it is too much to expect immediate relief from the power company, government snow removal services, emergency services.
Living in a mountain town that has its share of harsh winter storms, it is normal to expect homes will be without power now and then, and that streets will not always be cleared in a timely manner. But it is also reasonable to expect timely service and responsiveness from local utilities and the city, county and state snow clearing agencies.
According to many residents who contacted this newspaper in the aftermath of the last storm, many roads went for days without a single visit from a snow plow. Many homes were without power for days without a word from the power utility. Some, not knowing when they would be back online, even moved into motels for temporary relief. Holiday revelers, looking to get out of town before round two, clogged Highway 50, putting traffic at a standstill for a day.
Thirty-three percent of respondents to an online, unscientific poll on http://www.tahoedailytribune.com this week indicated it took more than 48 hours for their streets to get plowed. Forty-eight hours is too long.
The New Year’s storm that slammed the Sierra, causing minor flooding, downed trees and dumping a heap of winter snow, was unusually fierce. But we live in an era where service disruptions should be expected and dealt with in a timely manner. Snowplows should be on the streets as soon as there is enough accumulation. Power crews should be informing residents of power outages, soliciting reports and sending crews out in force. Public safety officials should clear traffic from city streets to ensure emergency vehicles and snow plows can get through.
It is not a commentary on the quality of the workers and managers, or the heart they put into their jobs to criticize the organizational shortfalls that resulted in these lengthy inconveniences. It’s just that this is a mountain town, and we know the potential for these storms exists.
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