Regular mail service is a necessity for millions of people throughout the U.S., as many of us rely on the mail system for essential things like receiving prescription refills or sending out rent checks. To ensure all Americans an equal opportunity to mail processing and delivery, the federal government created the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The USPS is "required to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to the public" as an independent part of the executive branch, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). But there are some exceptions. The postal agency suspends operations for federal holidays and, in most cases, it doesn't deliver mail or open post offices on Sundays. But there are other reasons the Postal Service can suspend services when it deems it necessary—and recently, the agency has done just that. Read on to find out where the USPS recently halted operations.
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The USPS says it does not like to suspend services.
Aside from federal holidays and weekends, the USPS can suspend its operations in certain places for various reasons, prompting temporary post office closures and mail delivery delays. In fact, the agency has suspended service in several areas already this year, including deliveries to a Santa Monica neighborhood in April due to attacks on mail carriers.
"Please be advised that the Postal Service does not enter into decisions to suspend service lightly," the USPS said in a letter to residents in the Santa Monica neighborhood, adding that mail suspension is "unfortunate" but sometimes necessary. "The safety of our employees and of the mail they deliver to you is our highest concern," the letter added.
The agency has halted operations in a few areas recently.
While not made "lightly," the USPS has clearly decided recently that the safety of its employees is too much at risk for operations to continue in certain areas.
Most recently, the agency updated its Service Alerts page on Sept. 19 to warn residents about service disruptions in several parts of Puerto Rico. The agency first announced on Sept. 16 that all operations at its post office in Aguada, Puerto Rico, had been suspended due to the Tropical Storm Fiona. But now, just a few days later, the USPS has closed over 25 more post offices throughout Puerto Rico because of the hazardous weather.
The Postal Service can suspend mail during natural disasters.
Tropical Storm Fiona hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 18, The New York Times reported. According to the newspaper, the storm has pushed over 30 inches of rainfall onto the U.S. territory, leaving thousands stranded and over a million without power. The USPS said it will delay or suspend services when natural disasters hit or when there are hazardous conditions at play for its carriers and/or vehicles.
"The Postal Service curtails delivery only after careful consideration, and only as a last resort," the agency says. "We appreciate your understanding of our responsibility for the safety of our employees, as well as of our customers."
The USPS has also suspended services in parts of the contiguous U.S.
Puerto Rico isn't the only area facing halted mail operations right now, however. The USPS also updated its Service Alerts page on Sept. 16 to warn residents about service disruptions in the state of Washington. According to the Postal Service, the post office in Cle Elum, Washington, is now temporarily closed due to flooding.
At least three other post offices in the state of Washington also appear to still be closed because of the Bolt Creek wildfire: Index, Skykomish, and Baring. And in California, the Mosquito wildfire is keeping post offices in Greenwood, Foresthill, and Georgetown closed.