- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

Mail carriers who missed their appointed rounds in the aftermath of the snowstorm last weekend are back on track, postal officials said yesterday, even though many area residents have not received mail since Saturday.
After a week of grounded airplanes, traffic tie-ups and unplowed neighborhood streets, postal officials warned it could be a few more days before mail flow in the region returns to normal.
"By the end of this week everything should be back to normal," said Deborah Yackley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service. "It's getting a little better each day."
Ms. Yackley said enough carriers reported to work Tuesday to cover all the routes, and about 75 percent of the mail was delivered that day. She could not provide figures on how much mail was delivered Wednesday or yesterday.
Meanwhile, people like Matthew Bethea, of Northwest, who live on sidestreets and in unplowed neighborhoods have gone without mail service since Saturday, when the first storm hit the region. That's because mail carriers are instructed to avoid locations they deem dangerous.
Mr. Bethea, 75, said his street the 1400 block of Meridian Place NW hasn't been touched by a plow, but that the sidewalks were cleared by residents.
"There's no excuse for [the plows] not to come," he said, adding that he cleared a path to his front porch and his mailbox.
Ms. Yackley said the effect of the storm, which buried much of the District, Maryland and Virginia under as much as 2 feet of snow, was muted because there was no scheduled mail delivery on Monday, owing to the Presidents Day holiday.
"It was quite fortunate Monday was a holiday," she said. Some postal workers, nonetheless, had a hard time getting to work Tuesday. And when they arrived, many had to pitch in to dig out their post offices and mail trucks.
It took mail carrier Joe Holliday four hours on Tuesday to dig out his mail truck from behind the Friendship Post Office in Northwest.
He said he delivered mail to all but one of the 248 houses on his route yesterday. "The steps were just too icy," he said.
Mr. Holliday, 60, has been delivering mail for 36 years, 29 of them spent on the same route. He said it typically takes him about four hours to complete his route, but he had to add two to three hours to his regular workday this week.
He said he made a special effort Tuesday and Wednesday to deliver bank statements, bills and other important items. But if a path to a house was icy and it was only getting junk mail, he might have set it aside for later delivery.
Mail carrier Arthur Baylor, 56, said the hardest part of doing his job in the past few days was pushing his three-wheeled mail cart over snow and ice.
"Most people don't clear their sidewalks off," Mr. Baylor said as he delivered mail to businesses on Connecticut Avenue in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Northwest.
Those who have gotten mail this week may have found a lighter volume because planes that transport mail were grounded when the area's airports were closed. Trucks delivering mail to the region's processing stations faced the same brutal traffic tie-ups that motorists did. Commuters spent most of this week crawling along interstates while public works crews removed tons of snow off the roads.
Ms. Yackley said one of the backups was caused by a postal service tractor-trailer that jackknifed on Interstate 270 as it made its way from Cincinnati to Washington. She said all the mail in that truck was preserved.


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