After Hurricane Irma destroyed their home last year, Sophia Pla and her husband were forced to live in their car — until her colleagues came to the couple’s rescue.
The Plas received assistance from postal inspectors, co-workers and others who helped them get back on their feet.
“When we lost everything, my Postal Service co-workers were there to help. They were incredible,” said Pla, a Marathon, FL, rural carrier associate. “I felt very proud to be with USPS because it felt like we were never alone.”
Pla is one of thousands of employees whose strength and perseverance were tested by last year’s historic hurricane season, including three storms — Harvey, Irma and Maria — that devastated parts of the Gulf Coast and Caribbean.
USPS operations have resumed in these areas, and many employees are on the road to recovery with help from organizations like the Postal Employees’ Relief Fund, which gave out 280 assistance grants to storm victims totaling approximately $500,000.
But even though life is getting back to normal, the memories linger.
Postal Inspector Eric Oram found himself working from sunup to sundown after Irma and Maria struck St. Thomas, VI, where he has been assigned since 2014.
Oram led teams of other inspectors who coordinated aid shipments for employees affected by the storm, searched for missing employees, and provided security for postal operations.
“Inspectors, postal management and employees really put in a tremendous amount of work to restore mail service to the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Oram said. “Because the U.S. Mail is so important to these island communities, everyone felt a sense of pride in working to restore mail service.”
As USPS prepares for the peak of this year’s hurricane season, Southern Area Vice President Shaun Mossman knows that his employees have it in them to get through it.
“Nothing has made me more proud during my entire career than witnessing what our employees did to react and respond to these natural disasters,” he said.