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Employee helps FEMA respond to disasters

USPS employee
Ithaca, NY, Letter Carrier Mark Avery is a reservist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

When Letter Carrier Mark Avery isn’t delivering mail in Ithaca, NY, he’s using his cartography skills to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) respond to emergencies.

“I’ve always had an interest in maps,” Avery said.

In college, a professor introduced him to the Geographic Information Systems (GIS), an intelligent mapping program.

Avery went on to study GIS at the University of Montana and in graduate school at Northeastern University. He joined USPS in 2002.

“When I came across a FEMA GIS reservist job listing, it seemed like a great way to combine my GIS disaster relief skills and my [postal] service,” Avery said.

After completing an intensive training program, he became an imagery interpreter reservist with FEMA.

The agency’s emergency responders use GIS to make quick, accurate decisions as they navigate disaster sites.

Through his work with FEMA, Avery helped map the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, as well as the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

“I’ve been involved in several relief efforts,” he said.

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