Shining lights

Employees who helped keep the mail moving during the outage include, from left, area maintenance specialists Felix Flores, Reinaldo Ortiz, William Garcia and Luis Lozada, and Ellery Ramos, a field maintenance operations manager.

USPS employees in Puerto Rico continued to deliver mail recently despite a massive blackout that left most of the island’s 3.5 million residents without electricity and shuttered community services for days.

“The entire island shut down, but the mail went through,” said Caribbean District Operation Programs Support Manager Bruce Branning.

District Manager Lisa Ojeda, San Juan Acting Plant Manager Yvonne Rodriguez  and other managers met regularly to ensure all employees were safe and postal operations kept moving.

“We got together three times a day to update status of the offices, the emergency plan and any impacts,” said Las Piedras Postmaster Jose Calserrada.

Nearly all 114 USPS facilities on the island relied on generators, including the San Juan Processing and Distribution Center, where generators ran for 5-6 days.

Despite the loss of computer access, water pumps, regional transportation and air conditioning in the 106-degree heat, employees didn’t miss a beat.

“Our preparedness for hurricane season enabled us to be prepared for this power outage,” said Lead Maintenance Manager Carlos Yarleque.

The blackout was caused by a fire at a power plant. Electricity has since been restored on the island, which is roughly three times the size of Rhode Island.

“[Our employees] stepped up to the plate,” Branning said.