Postal Service employees and customers are rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of the historic wildfires that raged through California last month.
The Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history, killed at least 85 people and destroyed more than 18,000 buildings in Northern California. In the greater Los Angeles area, the Woolsey Fire claimed three lives and destroyed 1,600 structures.
USPS has resumed service in most areas, although employees and customers know the road to recovery is just beginning.
“This fire is much worse than the other fires I’ve been through,” said Kenric Smith, a 30-year letter carrier in Malibu. “People think the people who live in Malibu are all rich, but a lot of my customers are older and they have been living in their homes for years. They lost everything.”
Throughout the state, employees are going the extra mile to help customers get back on their feet. On weekends, Oakville Postmaster Julie Burns assists the Chico Post Office, where she helps customers affected by the Camp Fire can pick up their parcels and mail.
“I’m really happy to help out when I can,” Burns said.
Almost a dozen Post Offices in the state were evacuated during the fires, but only one facility — the Point Dume office in Malibu — was damaged. Although the Camp Fire destroyed much of the town of Paradise, the local Post Office was spared.
USPS has accounted for all employees, including more than 60 workers who lost homes during the two blazes, which are now contained.
Pacific Area Vice President Larry Munoz, who recently toured Paradise, said employees are eager to help restore normalcy to the communities.
“As rebuilding begins — literally and emotionally — customers look to the Postal Service for support,” he said.