This year, it almost feels like the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service should be changed to “neither hurricanes, floods, nor wildfires stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
With two months still left, 2017 has already been an historic year for weather events. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria hit in quick succession and with devastating ferocity. Right on their heels, Northern California battled deadly wildfires. And many of us have already forgotten about the “endless winter” that hit the west earlier in 2017 with snow still falling into June.
In past blogs, we’ve written about the challenges USPS faces with extreme weather events. Damage to Postal Service facilities and vehicles can make normal operations difficult. And, of course, the safety of employees and customers is paramount.
The Postal Service’s immediate priority after a storm or major weather event is ensuring the safety of its employees. After that, 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, especially when people are without power and phone service. Mail delivery allows for the exchange of information, not to mention relief checks and government services, and can even provide a small feeling of a “return to normalcy.”
We’ve noted in past reports that the Postal Service’s contingency planning for severe weather is quite good. No less noticed is the human response. Sometimes after a storm, a postal worker 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. Just look at the many employees who were personally affected by the recent hurricanes and wildfires. Many of our OIG employees, in coordination with the Postal Service, have been a big part of these relief efforts, in particular in Puerto Rico.
Please share with us any personal experiences you have had with the Postal Service in the aftermath of a natural disaster.