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Quiet heroism

Publication praises postal disaster prep

Employees work at the Napa, CA, Post Office
Employees work at the Napa, CA, Post Office during a 2017 wildfire. Due to a power outage, it was too dark to work inside the building.

The Atlantic newsmagazine has praised the Postal Service’s ability to keep mail moving in the wake of natural disasters.

The Quiet Heroism of Mail Delivery,” a 1,200-word report published Feb. 1, examines the organization’s “sophisticated contingency plans” for hurricanes, wildfires and other crises.

Across the nation, USPS has more than 285 emergency management teams devoted to preparedness and response and recovery efforts to ensure the safety of employees and operational continuity.

Pat Mendonca, senior director of the Office of the Postmaster General, tells The Atlantic that the teams are trained annually using a framework known as the “three p’s”: people, property and product.

“After a weather-necessitated service outage, the agency’s top priority is ensuring that employees are safe, after which it evaluates the health of infrastructure, such as the roads that mail carriers drive on. Finally, it decides when and how to reopen operations,” the publication reports.

The article highlights the Postal Service’s work in the aftermath of disasters like the 2017 wildfires in Northern California and the hurricanes that struck the Caribbean that year, as well as the polar vortex that caused wind chills to dip more than 45 degrees below zero in the Midwest last week.

Mike Swigart, the Postal Service’s national preparedness director, tells The Atlantic that the resumption of mail delivery is often a meaningful sight for customers trying to rebuild after a disaster.

“When they see that carrier back out on the street, that’s the first sign to them that life is starting to return to normal,” Swigart says.

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