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USPS OIG – U.S. Postal Service Emergency Preparedness: Hurricane Ian

June 3, 2024
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READ FULL ARTICLE AT » Office of Inspector General OIG

Background

The U.S. Postal Service has an obligation to ensure a minimum level of universal service, including mail delivery at least six days a week to nearly 167 million residences, businesses, and Post Office (PO) Boxes. During natural disasters — such as Hurricane Ian, which made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast on September 28, 2022 — the Postal Service may choose to suspend operations; however, the management of recovery efforts to return to normal mail operations is imperative.

What We Did

This report responds to a congressional inquiry. Our objective was to evaluate the Postal Service’s planning and recovery efforts before and after Hurricane Ian in Everglades City, FL. We interviewed supervisors, managers, and officials involved in the emergency event, and reviewed internal policies and procedures around weather emergencies. We also visited the Everglades City Post Office, referenced in the congressional inquiry, to assess management’s actions related Hurricane Ian.

What We Found

The Postal Service did not safeguard the mail, retail products, PO Box records, or equipment at the Everglades City Post Office prior to Hurricane Ian’s landfall in accordance with Postal Service guidance. Additionally, Florida 2 District management did not effectively manage the recovery efforts to restore retail services after the effects of the storm. As a result, the Everglades City Post Office has lost almost $66,000 of retail postage revenue since Hurricane Ian.

Recommendations and Management’s Comments

We recommended management develop a procedure to document and confirm that hurricane preparedness tasks are completed before a storm, update hurricane preparedness guidance to implement all possible mitigation factors to reduce storm damage, create a communication process for the timely recovery of postal retail operations, and develop a plan with actionable milestones to restore internet and phone service to the Everglades City Post Office. Management agreed with three of four recommendations and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) considers management’s comments responsive, as corrective actions should resolve the issues identified in the report. The Postal Service’s comments and our evaluation are at the end of each finding and recommendation.

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