Postal Service Keeps Delivering Mail -- Through Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane postal service

As Hurricane Sandy began tearing up the East Coast, thousands evacuated their homes, schools closed, New York's transit system halted, the stock exchange fell quiet, federal offices in Washington, D.C., shut down, and most employers told their workers to stay home and keep dry. But a few employers did not: the U.S. Supreme Court, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Home Depot, Lowe's, and the U.S. Postal Service.

All Postal Service employees reported to work on Monday morning, according to USPS spokeswoman Darleen Reid, and while certain routes will be disrupted (such as evacuated areas of New York City), and a handful of coastal offices are closed, everywhere mail can be safely delivered, it will be. As far as Reid knows, the Postal Service has never failed to deliver mail to an area for a 24-hour period in its entire 237-year history, unless there were physical obstacles -- mounds of snow, flooded streets -- that made it impossible.

"You go to work. You deliver that mail in the snow and the sleet. I know it sounds cliche, but that's what we do," says Reid, who began her 26-year career with the Postal Service as a letter carrier. And that remains the USPS work ethic, despite the federal agency defaulting on multibillion dollar payments in both August and October, and the massive layoffs expected to total 35,000 by late 2014. "It's not a policy with us, it's a credo. It's a pride thing. It's just part of the fabric of the Postal Service worker."

Every Postal Service district has its own emergency management team, Reid explained, which meets around a half dozen times a year. In New York, the emergency team had set up a command center as of 6 p.m. on Sunday to coordinate all contingency plans, like sending extra trucks to a certain part of town, or setting up a mobile postal unit to service a flooded neighborhood.

The United State Postal Service, while urging voters to mail in absentee ballots as soon as possible, also vowed that political mail would be processed in time for the election.

Even on 9/11, when the U.S. Stock Exchange froze trading for four days, the Postal Service was back in action less than 24 hours after the terrorist attacks. "The employees down there prided themselves on starting delivery again the next day," says Reid. "They were trying to get the community to return to normal."

There is a personal element to the postal worker's dedication, she adds, as each letter carrier has his or her own customers, whom they don't want to let down. And many of those customers expressed their surprise and admiration Monday on Twitter, after their mail arrived.

"They're the eyes and ears of the community," says Reid, noting that every year the Postmaster General honors a few hundred heroes, many of whom came to the aid of ailing people, for example, by noticing that their mail had stacked up for a couple days.

"We're part of the culture. We want it to be that way," says Reid. "A little bit of hurricane isn't going to stop us."

For updates on any Postal Service disruptions, check the USPS website.

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Alex-Andre Bassett

Something is up. My tracking status hasn't changed since October 29 when it left California, and it's Nov 7. It's going to 11412 in St. Albans, New York, came from California and no updates. Very annoyed.

November 07 2012 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Today is 11-5. Haven't received mail delivery since 10-26. Zip code 10010: New York, NY

November 05 2012 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They just lost a package for me.

October 31 2012 at 1:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First-Class Mail®
Delivery status not updated
October 30, 2012

October 31 2012 at 11:58 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I dunno, I call BS.. I was expecting a USPS package on 10/29.. the day of the storm-- no package.. ok, 100mph winds, no big deal.. 10/30-- no package.. 10/31.. remains to be seen.. I'll get back to you if they deliver it today..
Today is the FIRST day roads in the NY Metro area are SAFER to travel-- major roadways anyway-- in places that have no significant structural damage..

October 31 2012 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good work USPS- mail service both days even with no power.

October 31 2012 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is simply the USPS spinning the facts. I know for certain that carriers in CT who felt the conditions were unsafe to deliver were actually threatened by their management to deliver or get fired. Management actually said that . The heck with their OATH! The USPS should be more concerned about the safety of their employees but they are not. Ask any carrier out there, they will tell you the truth. The USPS doesn't care at all about their employees safety, they care about the public's perception. what a joke!

October 31 2012 at 11:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The report exaggerates how much delivery is going on; we (and our post office) are not in an evacuation zone, we were not flooded, nor did we loose power except for a brief period last night when Con Ed phoned to say they had cut power to the area, but it was turned back on later that night. Many branches and a few trees are down, but most streets are passable. Nontheless, we did not receive deliveries Monday or Tuesday, nor did anyone whom we know in this area.

I do not think that USPS necessarily should deliver mail no matter what and can understand problems of personnel, many of whom are themselves struggling with recovering from the storm, getting to work. I only object to getting a snow job from USPS claiming things are working much better than they really are!

October 31 2012 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nonsense. My office is right across the street from the local post office (bigger center). Power was out with no damage Monday. Post Office was closed, no delivery.

October 31 2012 at 10:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah right! They are delivering the mail in all the other states that have not been severely hit by the storm.

October 31 2012 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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