Sandy Swamps Post Office and Other Shippers

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Hurricane Sandy raked the Eastern Seaboard on Sept.29, leaving unfathomable destruction and disruption in its path. It also put on hiatus the inscription on the corner of the General Post Office in New York City: "Neither snow nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

The U.S. Post Office was temporarily grounded in the Northeast by Sandy. Power outages, infrastructure damage, flooding and hazardous operating conditions disrupted mail delivery and other postal operations stretching from Washington, D.C., to Boston.

"The U.S. Postal Service is committed to the safety of its employees and the delivery of mail and packages to every address in America," Patricia Licata, a USPS senior public relations representative of told BusinessNewsDaily in a prepared statement. "We regularly deliver mail in adverse conditions and therefore, where it’s safe to do so, USPS will continue to deliver the mail in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

 "We commend our employees for their outstanding efforts to keep the mail moving.  Unfortunately, some areas affected by Sandy, specifically in the Northeast, are experiencing some service disruptions. We have emergency operation plans in place to expedite recovery efforts, including making sure there is timely delivery of mailed ballots. We’re continuing to monitor the situation and will make adjustments to our delivery operations as necessary. "

Licata said the USPS website contains the latest information on postal service and mail delivery and is updated frequently.

The U.S. Post Office was not the only logistics service that was severely buffeted by the winds and water of Sandy. The storm was an equal-opportunity hurricane, disrupting private delivery services such as FedEx and UPS as well. 

While FedEx service is still being delayed, spokesman Scott Fiedler said as of Wednesday afternoon things were starting to get back on track.

Earlier today, Fiedler said FedEx planes were among the first to land at the newly reopened Newark Liberty Airport.

"We are working to resume normal operations as soon as possible," Fiedler said.

Fiedler said in all areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, especially the New York City/Tri-State area, which suffered the brunt of the storm, deliveries are being made on a case-by-case basis. Delivery drivers are attempting to make all deliveries, but are holding onto packages for areas they can't get to because of storm damage and debris.

Fiedler said customers are being alerted when packages can't be delivered as scheduled.

"We will call customers and let them know the delivery couldn't be made," Fiedler told BusinessNewsDaily. "We then secure (those packages) in one of our facilities."

For packages that can't be delivered, Fiedler said customers have the options of what they want to do with their parcels.

They can either wait and have the package redelivered when their neighborhood is safe for travel or go online and have their package rerouted to their nearest FedEx location for pickup there.

Fiedler is encouraging all FedEx customers waiting for a package to keep updated on its status by visiting FedEx.com, which will also have updates on when all normal service will resume.

Things were no easier for FedEx rivals driving brown trucks.

UPS spokesperson Natalie Black said the company is advising all customers to stay updated on which towns and cities are still having service disrupted by visiting their website, which is keeping a real-time list of all the affected ZIP codes.

While deliveries have started again in some communities, Black said drivers are being held to a curfew so as not to put themselves in any danger.

In those communities where deliveries are at a halt, Black said service will only resume once the area is deemed safe for UPS drivers to negotiate. Until then, she said, packages are being held in one of UPS' secure facilities.

"We hold them until the area is clear and safe for everyone," Black told BusinessNewsDaily.

Black encourages customers who are waiting for a package to check its status online and to decide if they want to wait for it to be delivered, or pick it up directly from a UPS facility.

There is also a cascade effect when natural disasters occur. The service disruptions that Sandy caused for FedEx also affected businesses that depend on the delivery service for their logistics support.

Peapod, the country's oldest online grocery delivery service, suffered service delays throughout the Northeast, but began restoring service on Tuesday.

"Just a quick heads up to all of our fans on the East Coast: due to the severe weather conditions as a result of Hurricane Sandy, we will be closed through Tuesday," the company announced on its Facebook Page Oct. 29.  We have limited delivery availability until Saturday but will be monitoring the weather closely and will open up delivery slots as soon as possible. Please check the delivery times page before you start your order."

Peapod updated that information on Wednesday. "We are back in business and delivering to CT, DC, MA, MD, NH, PA, RI, VA and parts of Long Island, NY but our facilities serving NJ, NYC and suburban NY are still without power."

This story was provided by BusinessNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith or BusinessNewsDaily @BNDarticles. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

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