Thousands of postal workers in New York and New Jersey are still doing their jobs in the face of flooding, power outages and fuel shortages after the superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast this week.
As of close of business Thursday, more than 300 postal facilities in northern New Jersey alone were operating without power, said Maureen Marion, Northeast Area Manager at the Postal Service, in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.
Even without power, postal employees were sorting mail and offering some “nominal” counter services, she said.
USPS is considered an essential service for its role in making sure people have social security checks and other payments. The Postal Service has set up 181 generators and has had shipments of lights and extension cords sent to their facilities.
In some parts of Manhattan, postal workers could not get to people’s homes and in some cases, the local post offices where the residents would pick up the mail were also closed. It was a “double whammy” that forced USPS to set up alternate distribution centers so people could pick up their checks, Marion said.
USPS has set up a hotline for employees to call in for the latest work-related information. The Postal Service has more than 4,400 mail carriers in northern New Jersey and up to 13,000 in the Triborough area.
The cost of delivering mail through the storm is unknown at this time, Marion said.
“Right now, our goal is to do the right thing in terms of safety, right thing in terms of environmental protection,” she said.
For example, in addition to facilities damage, wet mail will have to be professionally cleaned and then there is the problem of fuel. USPS might bring in “fuel buses” to supply postal locations, Marion said.
“We’ll be monitoring those costs,” she said. “That said, the work that we do is essential. It’s critical work and we will make it happen.”
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.