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Report: Sandy roughed postal service fleet

- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2013

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stop a Postal Service worker. But a hurricane will stop the mail truck.

Hurricane Sandy, the massive super-storm that pounded the East Coast in 2012 and caused billions of dollars worth of damage, also managed to destroy or damage 110 delivery vehicles used by the U.S. Postal Service. Most of vehicles were damaged by flooding, but one got hit by a falling tree.

The damaged vehicles are a small segment of the fleet affected by the hurricane. Postal Service employees managed to save 16,157 vehicles unscathed, which the USPS Inspector General credits to good emergency planning before the hurricane.

According to its 2012 Hurricane Preparedness Guide, USPS instructed employees to move mail vehicles to higher ground.

But despite the fact the vast majority of the fleet went unscathed, the IG is concerned about the future. The cost to repair or replace the 110 damaged vehicles is estimated at $616,353, and for an agency trying to deal with a multi-billion deficit, every cost hurts.

Plus, the damaged vehicles were supposed to be in safe areas, which has the IG telling USPS bosses to reevaluate where they're stashing the vehicles in the event of destructive weather.

"Updated emergency preparedness plans will ensure there is appropriate designation of potential impacted areas, and allow officials sufficient response time to secure assets during natural disasters," the IG said.

USPS officials agreed, saying they'll reevaluate their vehicle safe areas after the destruction of the hurricane.

Sandy was the second most destructive hurricane on record, surpassed only by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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