Having spent the last few days without power, and possibly going another day or two without it, I've had a lot of time to think. One of the things I've thought about while sitting in a house without power or sitting in a hotel room trying to stay quiet so my kids can sleep is what the state could be doing better.
I've come up with a list of five suggestions I would seriously hope someone in power considers before the next time we get hit by a large disaster.
1) Suspend all taxes on hotels.
This will accomplish a couple things.
First and foremost, a lot of people without power choose to stay in hotels. When people are at a time of need is it really a good idea to tax them?
Secondly you have all the power company people coming in to help from out of state. Placing additional costs on the recovery effort by taxing their rooms only adds to the over all cost of the recovery.
2) Suspend all meals taxes. See the reasons for #1 which also apply here.
A bill that would automatically suspend both of these taxes any time a state of emergency is declared would be a huge start in the right direction of helping more then hurting.
The biggest problem I've had this whole time I've been without power is finding information. PSNH's website is useless and the state and local town government's have been very unhelpful. With as many power problems as there are around the state my question is do they even know about my road's problem. Without power I'm not about to waste my cell phone spending 20 minutes on hold with PSNH to finally get someone on the line who has no information and is of no help.
To be able to see a town by town list of each road they are aware of with problems and perhaps a priority listing showing which order they plan to address them in would at least allow people to know that their issue is known.
4) Priority is key.
One of the frustrating things when information does come out is the priority of when things are being fixed. I read a discussion on the Telegraph's website about a meeting PSNH executives had in one town discussing when power would be restored. They mentioned they were working to get the power restored as quickly as possible to the school. One town official pointed out that as long as there were kids without power in their homes and down wires all over town that they most likely wouldn't be having school anyway to which the PSNH executive allegedly commented back "We hadn't thought of that."
5) Consider the size of the problem.
I've driven around and seen small problems of just a line down and I've seen huge problems were 4 poles are broken right in a row.
If the larger problem with the broken poll is going to take 4 teams and they need to work 2 full days on it, well those same 4 teams might be able to fix 10 or so smaller problems in that same time frame. Even though that larger problem impacts a larger number directly, that same time could be used to fix power for an even greater number of people.
I hope to start discussions here about how we as a state can improve and find ways to best help each other in times of need like this one.