Mail Deliveries Rebound as California Wildfires Lessen

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Mail service is slowly returning to normal in Southern California after the wildfires there this week prevented the U.S. Postal Service from making more than 1 million deliveries in the Van Nuys, Santa Ana and San Diego postal districts.

As of yesterday, full delivery service had resumed in the Van Nuys and Santa Ana districts, but the San Bernardino Mountains and the city of San Diego in the San Diego District still were experiencing delays, including the closure of 15 post offices in the San Bernardino Mountains.

USPS spokesman David Mazer said that only several hundred deliveries were not made yesterday.

Wednesday was the worst day with the postal service unable to make 532,198 deliveries in the San Diego District. Across all three districts it was unable to make 260,000 deliveries Tuesday and 400,000 deliveries Monday.

The situation "is much improved with regard to air quality, but fires continue to hamper postal operations in San Diego's East County mountains and in the San Bernardino Mountains," he said.

The USPS set up temporary post offices in San Bernardino and San Diego County where residents can pick up their mail.

Mazer also said that mail processing, which was delayed earlier in the week by airport closures, is back on track.

United Parcel Service is also getting back on schedule after being hard hit at the start of the week.

"The biggest impact was Monday and part of Tuesday," UPS spokesman Bob Godlewski said. "But it is still not perfect yet. Things are moving, but there may be delays." He could not say how many packages were not being delivered.

Godlewski said that UPS was particularly concerned that railroad service in the area has been shut down since Sunday.

A FedEx spokesman said that most of its package delivery has been unaffected.

Mailers and mailing companies are watching the situation closely.

"The largest impact on our business is the ability to get catalogs in-home," said Richard Donaldson, a spokesman for L.L. Bean in Freeport, ME.

Donaldson added that L.L. Bean had a catalog scheduled to go in homes nationwide on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and that it will most likely be delivered late in many areas of Southern California.

"We are still waiting to see how this will impact call volumes, and then of course what that translates into in terms of orders," Donaldson said, "but at this point, it's too early for us to know what that is."

H. Don Landis, vice president of postal affairs at Arandell Corp., a national catalog printer in Menomonee Falls, WI, said some customers have decided not to deliver to affected areas even if delivery service is available. Besides the risk that the catalogs may not get there on time, "once they do, will these folks really feel like flipping through a catalog to buy something?" he said.


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