U.S. mail, FedEx and UPS delivery service nearly back to normal after snow

By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 18, 2010

The U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday that local mail delivery was 90 percent back to normal after this month's back-to-back snowstorms.

Amid reports from customers who said their mail had not been delivered in more than a week, Postal Service spokeswoman Deborah Yackley said a large amount of mail was delivered Tuesday afternoon and evening.

"We delivered . . . a huge volume of mail actually," Yackley said. "We were delivering until 8 o'clock at night. Most people are caught up as of [Wednesday]. There may be some [who are not] due to impassable streets or boxes that are totally buried. . . . We're up in the 90th percentile of delivery throughout the area at this point."

The twin storms choked area streets with snow, making many of them inaccessible even to the Postal Service's foot-slogging letter carriers. The Postal Service was unable to deliver mail during the Feb. 6 storm, marking the first time in 30 years that had happened. Delivery was also halted Feb. 10.

But problems lingered after the snow stopped. "I have not received mail since Friday, February 5. That's eight days without mail, not including today," a Bethesda resident wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Post on Wednesday. "My street (and my neighborhood) was plowed last Thursday and Friday, February 11 and 12. All the streets are clear. I am still waiting for my mail. What gives?"

William E. Brown of Clinton, an 88-year-old World War II veteran, said he did not have mail delivery between Feb. 5 and Tuesday. His mail was delivered Wednesday. "When I was a kid," he said, the mail came "twice a day, six days a week regardless of the weather."

Greg Frey, another Postal Service spokesman, said: "Basically if it's a neighborhood that's not accessible, the carriers might not be stopping there. We encourage our customers to make sure the pathways to their mailboxes are accessible."

Yackley said mail delivery was hampered by unplowed streets, employees who had been unable to get to work and slow mail delivery from other snowbound sections of the country. "We still anticipate there's some mail we haven't gotten into the area" from other regions affected by the snow, she said. "As far as not getting any delivery whatsoever, that should pretty much be straightened out."

Anyone who still has not gotten mail, she said, should receive it in the next day or so.

FedEx also had problems during the storms, because of unplowed secondary roads, spokeswoman Sally Davenport said. But the company worked to make up for it over the weekend.

UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said her company assigned supervisors to assist its 1,900 drivers in the Washington region. "We actually delivered Thursday and Friday," she said. "Wednesday [Feb. 10] was the only day we didn't have operations in and around the [Washington] area.

"There still have to be some suburban areas, cul-de-sacs . . . where they might not have plowed," she said, and in those cases the safety of the drivers was considered.

"I won't say it's business as usual," she said. But "anything that isn't delivered by the end of today that was expected" should arrive before the end of the week.

Staff writer Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company