USPIS During Disaster
During times of crisis, both natural and man-made, the United States Postal Inspection Service steps in to aid in relief efforts by securing postal facilities and helping to reopen lines of communication.
Hurricane Katrina Aftermath
In late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall over Louisiana and Mississippi. The Category 5 storm devastated local communities, causing major flooding, storm damage, and a critical loss of infrastructure that delayed rescue efforts. After a natural disaster, a postal inspector’s top priorities are ensuring postal employees are safe, securing postal facilities, recovering and protecting any loose mail, and helping reestablish lines of communication to aid disaster relief.
This was especially crucial after Hurricane Katrina, as powerful outages prevented relief organizations from using radio, television, or phone lines to communicate with victims. Approximately 17 postal facilities were destroyed, with a further 500 damaged during the 2005 hurricane season. But, thanks to good disaster planning, the U.S. Mail was one of the first services back online in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, postal inspectors in New York and surrounding areas were a vital part of recovery and investigative efforts. Many postal inspectors were deployed to FBI Command Centers and post offices to bolster security and assist in the investigation. Others helped salvage what they could from the Church Street Station Post Office and oversaw recovery efforts.
The attacks of 9/11 sparked multiple bomb threats around New York and scams targeting the good will of people. Postal inspectors stepped up to investigate these incidents. Postal inspectors with expertise in plane crashes were sent to the site of United 93 crash in Stoystown, PA, to assist in the investigation there. After the attacks, Chief Postal Inspector Kenneth C. Weaver said before a Senate Subcommittee that he had “never been prouder of how Inspection Service employees handled themselves and answered the call to duty than I have during this crisis.”
Postal Inspectors in Maui
Currently, Hawaii is dealing with massive destruction in Maui due to wildfires. Postal inspectors were quick to assist in recovery efforts. After the destruction in Lahaina, postal inspectors responded to determine the level of destruction of the downtown and surrounding post offices. All USPS employees were accounted for, although some lost their homes to the devastating fires.
It was determined that the Downtown Office was destroyed, but the Lahaina Main Office was still operational. Postal inspectors assisted in recovering mail from the Lahaina Main Office when evacuation orders were given and recovered items from safes in the Lahaina Downtown Office. Inspectors remained in Lahaina to assist with security, bring in supplies for USPS employees, and restore service.
HISTORY SPOTLIGHT HOMEPAGE
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