"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"
Many Americans consider that phrase to be the motto of the U.S. Postal Service, showing the dedication of not only carriers, but the entire postal network to operate during the worst of weather disruptions. Though the Postal Service actually has no motto (those words are chiseled into the entrance over the Farley Post Office in New York City), it strives to be prepared to function during any type of extreme weather.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, which tracks weather events in the U.S., noted that 2016 was an unusually active year, with 15 weather and climate events that each incurred damages of over $1 billion. Last year the Postal Service’s Southern Area was hit particularly hard by severe storms, with two hurricanes – Hermine and Matthew -- coming onshore, as well as two land-based storms that produced flooding and other devastation on a scale greater than most hurricanes.
Considering the Postal Service operates one of the largest vehicle fleets in the U.S., with over 218,000 delivery vehicles and has more than 35,000 retail units, extreme weather events can pose many challenges. One severe storm has the potential to delay millions of mailpieces, damage delivery vehicles, and close facilities. In 2015, USPS deployed an updated integrated Emergency Management Plan to help management prepare for, respond to, and recover from all hazards.
Our audit team recently released a report evaluating how effective the Southern Area was during the 2016 weather emergencies, in particular actions to safeguard the mail and protect delivery vehicles. We found the Postal Service was well prepared for the weather events: using comprehensive emergency plans; monitoring weather; providing guidance to local postal management; and restoring operations. As a result, damage to vehicles and mail was minimized.
While nothing beats Mother Nature, it’s good to have a plan. And it seems the Postal Service has one on how to prepare for and recover from any weather emergency.
How do you think USPS has performed during severe weather events in your area?