USPS Is Suspending Services at 115 Post Offices, Effective Immediately
The agency is blaming all the current closures on the same issue.
While post office hours vary widely across the U.S., most facilities are open to customers at least five days a week. The main exception to this is federal holidays, as the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is required to suspend services on these days as a part of the federal government. But the USPS has also been known to close certain post offices during regular service hours, even when it's not a holiday. Over the last year, the agency has temporarily shut down many facilities for various reasons, including building damage, lease issues, and safety concerns. Now, the USPS is shuttering a staggering 115 post offices. Read on to find out more about the latest closures.
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The Postal Service is closing post offices in three states.
When the USPS experiences unusual disruptions to its service, it warns customers through its Service Alerts website. With this tool, you can find out "if your local post office is open," according to the agency. Based on the Postal Service's latest update, many customers would do well to check. On the evening of Jan. 3, the USPS released three new alerts warning customers about service disruptions.
According to the updates, over 100 post offices have just been "temporarily closed" in three different states: Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. A total of 115 facilities are impacted.
There were 19 post offices shuttered in Nebraska, including those in cities such as Bassett and Atkinson. In South Dakota, 21 post offices were closed, including facilities in cities like Alexandria and Marion. Minnesota is facing the most closures: The USPS shut down 75 facilities in this state, which includes post offices in Sherburn and Winnebago.
The agency says weather is to blame.
The Postal Service hasn't elaborated much on the current closures, but the issue seems to be the same across the three states. According to the agency's alerts, the facilities in Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota have all been shuttered temporarily "due to weather."
On Jan. 3, The Washington Post reported that a "string of powerful winter storms" is moving across the Central U.S., bringing about record amounts of heavy snowfall.
"The area forecast to endure the most disruptive snowfall through early Wednesday runs from northeastern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota into southwestern Minnesota," the newspaper explained. Parts of Nebraska have reported 15 inches of snowfall so far, while some people in South Dakota have already seen 22 inches of snow.
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The USPS is asking customers for help.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has already warned that the storm conditions "will result in snow-covered roads, reduced visibility, and difficult-to-impossible travel" across Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota, according to New Scientist. This could affect mail deliveries across the three states as well.
On Jan. 4, the USPS issued a local press release for Minnesota, warning customers that mail carriers in the area are being challenged by snow and ice.
As "heavy snow and hazardous conditions" are being forecast across parts of Minnesota, the Postal Service is asking customers to help workers make safe deliveries by clearing snow and ice from their walkways, driveways, porches, and the areas around their mailbox.
"Slips, trips and falls continue to be the most frequent type of injury sustained by our carriers," Minnesota-North Dakota District Manager Anthony Williams said in a statement. "As winter conditions worsen, so do the number of accidents. By simply clearing the way, customers help reduce the risk."
Weather is not the only issue impacting mail service right now.
The Postal Service has closed post offices and suspended delivery services temporarily in several states already this winter. Some service is simply slow—and hazardous weather isn't the only issue.
On Jan. 2, USPS spokeswoman Lecia Hall told The Bellingham Herald that people may still be experiencing slow service right now as a result of the winter holidays and staffing shortages.
"We are just coming off our peak season for mail. Our networks, post offices, and routes were naturally very busy. To meet the daily challenges, we flexed every available resource, including borrowing employees from facilities across the state to match the workload to continue to provide the service our customers deserve," Hall told the newspaper. "Our workforce, like others, is not immune to nationwide staffing challenges, but the Postal Service is aggressively hiring carriers and clerks to stabilize our workforce."
Hall added, "We appreciate the patience of our customers and the efforts of employees as conditions change on a day-to-day basis. We apologize to our customers for the inconsistent service and we pledge to do better."