Postal Service workers share experience in Hurricane-affected areas
EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. —
Days after Hurricane Irma devastated Puerto Rico and the Carribbean, the United States Postal Service asked for volunteers to assess the damage done to the 130 post offices in the region.
East Syracuse Postal Inspector, Matthew Puro, made the trip and says landing in St. Thomas was surreal.
"There were numerous flipped-over planes on the runway, just as, feet from where we arrived. So, at that point you started to realized the destruction that happened and the power of those storms," Puro explained.
Matthew says he helped check in on the nearly 3,000 employees to make sure they were ok.
He says they slept in a damaged post office with cots.
Edward Phelan oversees the entire Caribbean for the Postal Service, and he's been to the area twice so far.
"The amount of mail and care packages going down to the island had quadrupled, where we normally would send one plane of mail a day, turned into six or seven," Phelan said.
With the help of other first-responders, the USPS is handing out as much mail as possible.
"[You] really don't realize till you're down there how important the Postal Service is to people in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas," Puro said.
Being on the island, it's often easier to get medication and other essentials mailed in.
But despite widespread devastation, Edward and Matthew found the people to be warm, and resilient.
"I remember something that a lady told me as we were at the main post office, she said, 'at least we have life,' so that kind of stuck with me," Puro explained.
A reminder to find beauty even in the most bleak times and appreciate each letter or package you receive.