on Jul 3rd, 2013 in Delivery & Collection | 14 comments
 

“If you are generally well-equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.”U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Ali S. Khan, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Hurricanes, floods, wild fires, snowstorms, tornadoes, zombie apocalypse – you name it, the U.S. Postal Service is prepared to deliver. Part of the Postal Service’s extensive operational planning includes contingency plans to make sure mail gets delivered safely after every type of weather event, power outage, and undead uprising. Ok, maybe the Postal Service isn’t preparing for a zombie apocalypse, but its emergency preparedness plans could seemingly handle even that type of catastrophe.

The Postal Service’s immediate priority after a storm or major weather event is the safety of its employees. Once safety issues are addressed, the prompt delivery of mail and packages to affected areas becomes the focus. The resumption of mail delivery to a disaster-affected area is often a welcome event in recovery. Citizens are frequently without power and phone service, which severely limits communications. Mail delivery allows for the exchange of information, including relief checks and government services, and can even provide a small feeling of a “return to normalcy” for citizens. Sometimes after a storm, a letter carrier is the first direct contact a citizen has with another person. Postal employees are often dealing with disasters in their own homes, yet show up faithfully for work.

Halfway into 2013 and the year is shaping up to be an historic weather one. Winter storm Nemo, May tornadoes in Oklahoma, wild fires in Arizona, late spring snowstorms from Arkansas to Minnesota, flooding in many parts of the country, and record-breaking heat in the West all took place in just the first 6 months of this year. And hurricane season has only just started. This puts added pressure on the Postal Service to have sufficient controls in place to ensure employee safety and mitigate interruptions to service. Adding to the contingency challenge is the fact that postal facilities are often damaged in these weather events, forcing rerouting of mail and relocation of retail services. For example, the October 2012 Hurricane Sandy, which caused extensive power outages and infrastructure disruptions up and down the east coast, resulted in numerous postal facilities being damaged.

Share with us your experiences with the Postal Service during major weather events. Could the Postal Service improve its preparation and response efforts in dealing with extreme weather to minimize disruptions? 

Comments

USPS should cease making employees come to work and go out delivering Mail when local governments declare a state of emergency and request only emergency vehicles be on the road. Rather than excercise federal presumption of applicable laws, USPS should recognize the good judgement of local authorities in the matter. Delivering Mail is really not a “vital service” and is not worth putting people’s lives at risk.

Granted, people don’t need the pennysaver when the weather is bad, but the USPS delivers vital packages like prescription medicines. They are professional drivers and really what can’t you buy online and get delivered by USPS? Instead of everyone’s vehicle on the road picking up essentials, let the professionals deliver what you need. Stay home.

I agree Tim, the penny saver is the last thing on our mind in the event of a disaster. However, I don’t think most people understand the Postal Service plays a vital role in emergency preparedness. We have expertise and knowledge unique to our organization, in that we have mastered the routes and addresses of the entire United States. In the event of a natural disaster or biological attack the Postal Service is needed to deliver information and medication to the American public. While the health and safety of our employees is always first and foremost, we are a key player in protecting the public at large. For example, in the event a public quarantine could prevent outbreak of a disease or spread of a biological agent; the Postal Service would play a vital role in delivering information and antidotes to prevent public alarm, panic and further contamination. Of course this would all be carried out in coordination with other first responders but I think we all need to recognize and respect the fact the Postal Service delivers a much larger service than distributing junk mail and penny savers.

This is an excellent article as it deals with issues that most people never ponder until faced with a crisis. People will be expecting and looking for checks, advance payments and documents from their insurance carrier. There are a tremendous amount of documents that still need mailed and not sent via email. Some how, the USPS should be tied in to FEMA on when to deliver and when it is safe. At most storm sites, there are fema tents and instruction sites set up. I would think that the postal service would or should coordinate your services at these same sites for the people displaced. I am sure the safety of the employees is foremost. But you can never minimize the importance of mail returning some semblance of normalcy in a time of crisis. As for delivering around zombies, ….. Suggest you let management figure that one out.

You are absolutely right. We are tied to FEMA, state EMA’s, as well as the Centers for Disease Control. We have agreements to deliver emergency items including medical neccessities under escort of the US Marshalls if needed. That’s why I say there’s alot more to the Postal Service than the average American understands.

This is the best thing i have seen on the postal service website.

Can you dig it?

I think it is a clear injustice as to how postal employees are treated. Chicago at 22 inches of snow and employees were expected to come to work. How can you come to work if the road are not clear or you cannot get out of the front or back door of your home. Employees who could not get to work were force to use annual leave, and they have not receive that day back.

Well I know there wasnt a hurricaine and certainly no zombies, but my package was scheduled to be delivered today, my package according to tracking data has been sitting in a warehouse somewhere since July 12th and hasnt moved, hasnt left the facility either, I could have driven down there to pick it up myself. Im not usually impatient, and USPS has always come through, but I am concerned that the tracking data hasnt been updated since friday, its monday afternoon, where is my package???? Its a vital component and I must have it soon.

Label Number: 9405510200793746071040

Our business can't even get Saturday delivery on a clear day from the Great Neck, NY PO because the letter carrier is insane and the supervisor likes to verbally abuse you when you call to complain about it. It's out of control.

Please tell me Why am i paying for a PO box and cannot get my mail. Important is mailed to me from within the US and it takes from one and half weeks to three weeks.
The Postal service employee's attitude is so what it is a low priority.
This is totally unacceptable.Customer.
It is rumored the this particular Post Office has lost their lease and no one from the Postal Service have informed the community in Harlem. or the rental box .
Renewal rates have been placed in the box for August 31ST and the building is closing on that date from another source.
This so disrecptectful on so so many level.

This is almost hilarious. I say almost, because getting delivery at all is a rare event. Here in Seattle it seems like that at least for our route a bit of rain, a bit of sun, a few clouds, or demolished "Cluster-boxes" is all it takes to keep the mail from showing up. A little rain, In Seattle, where it rains at least 3 months out of the year. I understand if they won't deliver in the snow, since nearly every street is a grade, but UPS, FedEx, an OnTrack sure can make it any day that's not declared a state of emergency. Zombies! If our postman saw a snowflake, a rain drop, the sun, or a cloud, I'm fairly sure he'd call in sick. I wouldn't fault him for doing that in the case of a Zombie Apocalypse, but doing it because it's Tuesday and putting mail in boxes is a rough job and it's easier to just tick the "delivered" box on all of the mail with tracking numbers is easier than doing the job he's paid to do. Having to wrestle with the USPS for over 3 YEARS over mail delivery and still missing most of your mail is absolutely absurd, at least as absurd as the title of this blog post.

"postal service's immediate priority AFTER a storm or event is the safety of its employees" True words...The operative word is AFTER..The problem comes into focus before and during the event. Local emergency management proclamations and states of emergency are ignored and countermanded by districts and regions. Employees are left in harm's way unable to return home to secure property and ensure safety of families. Discretion often is the better part of valor. Macho, "we will deliver no matter what" is dangerous and childish, not the kind of actions one would expect from true leadership. That being said; one hopes that issues brought up here and in all other blog posts, will get ultimately to the impacted levels of management and that they will benefit from reflection on them.

I have just returned from speaking with our local postmaster as our mail was not delivered today...again. It's because a car was parked in front of the mail boxes. The postmaster says that it is USPS policy that they cannot get out of their delivery vehicles in order to place the mail in the boxes...I'm talking 10 feet! Hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes I can understand...but 10 feet of walking! (Yes, I'm serious...he says that it is USPS policy!) Please don't tell me about their heroics regarding delivering the mail. The heroes have all left the building...

Add new comment

This site provides a forum to discuss different aspects of the United States Postal Service and how it can be improved. We encourage you to share your comments, ideas, and concerns.

This is a moderated site—we will review all comments before posting them. We expect that participants will treat each other with respect. We will not post comments that contain vulgar language, personal attacks of any kind, or offensive terms that target specific individuals or groups. We will not post comments that are clearly off-topic or that promote services or products. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted.

We ask that reporters send questions to the USPS OIG Media Office through their normal channels and refrain from submitting questions here as comments. We will not post questions from reporters.

We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. Given the need to manage Federal resources effectively, however, we will review comments and post them from 9:00 a.m—5:00 p.m Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. We will read and post comments submitted after hours, on weekends, or on holidays as early as possible the next business day.

To protect your own privacy, and the privacy of others, please do not include personal information or personally identifiable information such as names, addresses, phone numbers or e-mail addresses in the body of your comment.

Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on this forum (or any other forums available via an RSS feed) are those of the individual bloggers. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, or the Federal government.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy and disclaimer. We plan to blog weekly on as many emerging new media topics as possible. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.