All anyone wanted to talk about this week was the latest “Storm of the Century” that hit Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning. Well, it didn’t turn out to be the storm of the century, although it did dump some significant amounts of snow on us. What I want you to consider, though, is all of the pre-planning and common sense things that were done in anticipation of the snow.
What did we do to prepare for the storm? Well, when it was certain that snow was coming, schools closed for the evening and the next day, many businesses closed early Tuesday night, and many stayed closed Wednesday. Some businesses allowed their staffs to work at home on Wednesday or to take personal time or a combination of both. Clinics and dentist offices called their patients and rescheduled their non- essential medical/dental procedures for another day. I don’t know about you, but it was good to simply hear all schools are closed instead of listening to the endless stream of closed schools – and then miss hearing yours!
What happened as a result of these actions? Well, first of all, we were all safer in our homes than being on the road. The fewer number of vehicles on the road allowed road crews to do their jobs faster without being stuck in traffic jams themselves. As a result, most freeways and main roads were in great shape the next day. With smaller snow removal crews, it is important to be as efficient as possible in cleaning up after the storm. We also stopped tons of pollutants from vehicles idling in snow-covered roads from entering the atmosphere.
I would also argue that we lost very little if anything in productivity. I know you will tell me that I am naive if I think people worked diligently from their homes – well, I agree many probably didn’t, or didn’t for a full day. But, tell me how productive people are after a long – possibly a couple of hours – trip on the freeway and finally getting to work – especially knowing they have to go home a few hours later. We have to look at big picture impacts instead of limiting our analysis to just short term, out-of pocket costs.
I know everyone does not have the type of job that can allow them to stay home and many people do not get paid if they don’t work. There is never a solution that works for everyone in every situation, but I think the pre-planning that was done turned this storm from a 2-3-day event into a one-day event for most people. Let’s not forget what we learned when the next “Storm of the Century” hits again – maybe even later this year!