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Delta dawn

Disaster brings out best in USPS workers

Rolling Fork, MS, Post Office employees, from left, City Carrier Assistant Ladarius Pinkins, Rural Carrier Dana Steed, Postmaster Leslie Coleman and retail associates Kilwanna Lee and Shaterica Cartlidge.

In times of catastrophe, Postal Service employees — often despite great personal struggles of their own — come together to snap a community back into the rhythm of everyday life.

Case in point: the immediate aftermath of the monster tornado that devastated Rolling Fork, MS, and environs last month.

“Every employee showed up to work with the exception of one,” said Bill Farrior, Post Office operations manager for Alabama-Mississippi District; the exception was dealing with major damage to their home.

It was the first week on the job for Ladarius Pinkins, a city carrier assistant who trudged half a mile to report for duty from his remote parking spot.

Pinkins was in uniform and toting a pair of rubber boots because he wasn’t sure what he would encounter. “He said, ‘I’m here, what do you guys need?’” Farrior said. “He was ready to roll, one week employed…. Everyone has done an outstanding job.”

Thirty miles up the road, Silver City, MS, was in a similar situation. The office sustained serious damage and operations were temporarily moved to Belzoni, MS.

Belzoni Postmaster Barbara Poole oversees both offices. She and her crew have their hands full juggling between the two, grappling with power outages, blocked roads, sorting mail in the dark and, of course, piles and piles of debris.

“It’s a struggle but we’re making it work,” she said.

The experience gave Farrior a new appreciation for the importance of the Postal Service in customers’ lives.

“It’s hard for us to realize how much what we do every day means to our customers until something like this happens. On a day-to-day basis, we take it for granted,” he said.

“But to see the appreciation in customers’ faces when they see the mail truck coming or that the Post Office is back in business one day out of a storm like that reminded me of how important our mission is.”