The U.S. Postal Service said yesterday that it is doing everything possible to deliver mail to customers who can be reached safely in the flooded and wreckage-strewn areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida that were in the path of Hurricane Katrina.
Power outages, closed roads, high water and other obstacles make it difficult for the USPS to reach customers — as well as many of its employees — in areas hit hard by the storm. About 2.3 million residents remain without electricity, and fuel is in short supply due to the loss of refining capacity along the Gulf Coast.
The postal service said it is reentering storm-damaged areas when it is safe to do so to reopen post offices to restore mail delivery and service as well as establish mobile retail centers to serve customer needs in damaged areas. Customers can check the status of postal services in their ZIP code area online at www.usps.com.
The postal service asks customers unable to receive delivery at their permanent address to file a change of address, said Azeezaly S. Jaffer, USPS vice president of public affairs and communication. The quickest and easiest way to do this is electronically, filed online at www.usps.com or by calling 800/ASK-USPS.
Hurricane victims in areas without telephone service or Internet access should go to the nearest post office, complete a change-of-address form and submit it to a postal retail associate at the counter or mail it for free. More than 36,000 have filed a change of address.
In addition, the postal service has assigned ZIP code 77230 to the Astrodome in Houston for general mail delivery to those victims of Hurricane Katrina. The USPS is also setting up special ZIP codes for other sites being used to house evacuees. Postal employees at those locations are assisting people with the change-of-address process.
Also, the postal service and Social Security Administration established pickup points for displaced and evacuated Katrina victims to receive delivery of their monthly Social Security checks. Locations in Louisiana and Mississippi are posted on www.usps.com. The pickup schedule for these checks has been extended through Sept. 7.
Federal agencies can continue to send First-Class mail to their customer's address, the agency said. If it can be delivered, it will be, or it will be made available at the local post office, the agency said. If the residence and customer are no longer there, the USPS will deliver the mail to the customer's temporary location based on the change of address. If the mail cannot be delivered or forwarded, it will be returned to the sender.
In other news, the Mississippi River was open in two directions as of Monday. Port of New Orleans president/CEO Gary LaGrange said the port was in dire need of diesel fuel to run ship-board generators to create the electricity to run port operations.
The port's riverfront terminals suffered some damage from Hurricane Katrina but survived in fairly decent shape, LaGrange said in a statement Sunday. Some cargo containers were strewn about several terminals.
The goal is to commence cargo operations for humanitarian aid and commercial cargo by the end of the week.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration is providing several ships with the capacity to temporarily house 1,000 people who will operate the port.
Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters