Hurricane Michael

Army soldiers work on equipment

Hurricane Michael hit the Southeast this week, prompting the Postal Service to suspend mail delivery and retail operations at several Post Offices in Florida, Alabama and other states.

The hurricane made landfall in the Florida panhandle Oct. 10, becoming the most powerful storm to hit the continental United States in decades. Before moving into the Atlantic Ocean Oct. 12, Michael battered the region with destructive winds, dangerous storm surges and flash flooding.

“As the Postal Service monitors the storm’s movement, our top concern is the safety of our employees and customers. We will work as quickly as possible to reopen affected Post Offices and resume delivery when it’s safe to do so,” said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan.

USPS began preparing last week for Michael, including providing employees with emergency guidelines and advising customers of potential service disruptions.

Employees affected by the storm should call the USPS national emergency hotline at 888-363-7462 to report their condition and check for changes in their scheduled work reporting status.

The Postal Employees’ Relief Fund and Employee Assistance Program are available to help affected employees.

Customers who have questions about mail delivery should check the USPS Service Alerts site for updates. The Postal Service is also updating customers through social media posts and news releases.

Kwanzaa celebration

African-American woman strikes dramatic pose on stage near Kwanzaa stamp artwork

The Postal Service continued its tradition of honoring the Pan-African holiday Kwanzaa during the dedication ceremony of a new stamp Oct. 11.

Government Relations and Public Policy Executive Director Stephanie Childs, who led the ceremony, explained the importance of Kwanzaa for the millions of African-Americans who celebrate the holiday each year.

“Kwanzaa has grown to hold special meaning to millions of people who — through good times and bad — find comfort in drawing on the ideals of family, community and culture,” Childs said.

The stamp depicts a man, woman and child adorned in a mixture of western and African-inspired clothing near a table with several important Kwanzaa symbols, including a kinara (candleholder) and a kikombe cha umoja (unity cup).

During the event, which was held at North Carolina State University’s African American Cultural Center in Raleigh, NC, Childs encouraged attendees to honor the principles of Kwanzaa, including reaffirming bonds with family and friends and commemorating the past.

“Kwanzaa teaches us that we have an internal connection of shared experiences and sacrifice that can never be broken,” she said.

The stamp is available at Post Offices and usps.com.

Need to know

Smiling man, woman hold crystal trophies

Engagement awards. The Postal Service is continuing to seek nominations for its third annual Engagement Leader of the Year Awards, which honor leaders who foster enthusiasm, involvement and commitment among their teams and peers.

Nominees for this year’s awards must be Executive and Administrative Schedule (EAS) or Postal Career Executive Services (PCES) employees in leadership positions and have employees who report directly to them.

The nomination forms and instructions are available on the Employee Engagement Blue and LiteBlue pages. Nominations are due Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Cracking the case. A U.S. postal inspector will be featured in an upcoming episode of “American Greed,” a CNBC series that examines true crimes.

The episode, slated to debut Monday, Oct. 15, highlights the case of Jeffrey Cohen, a Maryland man who is serving a 37-year prison sentence in a massive insurance fraud scheme.

Postal Inspector Penny Tserkis-Mullins will appear in the episode, discussing how Cohen fraudulently obtained more than $100 million in premiums from thousands of victims.

CNBC posts full episodes of “American Greed” on the show’s site after each telecast.

Spreading cheer. Postal Posts, the USPS blog, has a new look to celebrate the holidays. Now through December, the blog will feature fresh content each week to help keep customers up-to-date on peak season happenings, as well as ways to make the holidays a little easier.

Customers can check Postal Posts to learn about package shipping deadlines, volume projections, tips to avoid shipping glitches, special postmarks, ways to protect packages, how to ship food and fragile items, and more.

Postal Bulletin. The Postal Bulletin’s Oct. 11 issue features an update on the Postal Service’s cybersecurity efforts. The publication also includes the latest updates to USPS policies, procedures and forms.

Got news for “Need to know”? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.

News quiz

Fatigues-clad soldier handles package

Here’s Link’s latest “News quiz,” a weekly feature that invites readers to test their knowledge of recent stories. The correct answers appear at the end.

1. Fill in the blank: The price changes announced this week by the Postal Service include a (blank) increase in the price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp.

a) 1-cent
b) 5-cent
c) 10-cent
d) 15-cent

2. True or false: During this year’s holiday season, USPS will offer a reduced price on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box for mail sent to military and diplomatic posts abroad.

a) True
b) False

3. Who said, “They made me feel like I was their lifesaver”?

a) Valley Head, WV, Retail Associate Rhonda Channell
b) Clermont, GA, Rural Carrier Associate Camille Garrett
c) Carol Stream, IL, Postmaster Carrie Koutsogiannakis
d) DeSoto, TX, Letter Carrier Clubber Targton

4. Link recently asked readers to submit story ideas for which regular column?

a) “Best practices”
b) “The list”
c) “Need to know”
d) “On the job”

5. Match the product in Column A with this year’s holiday season recommended shipping deadline in Column B.

Column A
a) Priority Mail
b) Priority Mail Express
c) USPS Retail Ground

Column B
I) Dec. 14
II) Dec. 20
III) Dec. 22

Answers: 1) b. 2) a. 3) c. 4) d. 5) a. II., b. III., c. I.

Look for a new quiz next week and share your feedback with Link at uspslink@usps.gov.