Modern day heroes, including heroic postal carriers, have a way of emerging during catastrophic times. Ordinary men and women, going about the daily business of life and work, step up to the plate to perform heroic acts during the most trying of events.
This fall has presented many life changing challenges, as well as opportunities for such heroism. Hurricanes and floods battered and inundated Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and beyond. Earthquakes in central and southern Mexico shattered buildings and lives.
Closer to home, in the San Francisco Bay Area, wildfires are still raging, leveling entire communities and destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of dry forests, grasslands, and vineyards to the north of San Francisco, in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. To the south of San Francisco, a new wildfire has erupted in the mountains of Santa Cruz. The skies throughout the Bay Area are yellow and smoky gray, polluted by smoke and ash.
And yet, out of all of this destruction, heroes have emerged. In these disasters, there have been thousands of individuals who have devoted their energy to helping others. First responders, including firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, and police officers put themselves in danger to save others. Neighbors help neighbors.
In Sonoma County, CA, the owner of a wildlife refuge refused to leave his animals, “a thousand souls,” despite the fact that his own house was burning. Staying with them put his own life at risk. There are stories of dogs leading farm animals and wildlife to safe spots, and of people alerting and helping neighbors.
Mail carriers are among the heroes in these dramas. In a burnt-out subdivision in Santa Rosa, CA (Sonoma County), a mail truck, spotted by drone, delivers mail to those mailboxes left standing among the ruins.
Does this seem weird? The USPS offered the following statement of explanation, as quoted in The Mercury News:
“This is an example of the long standing relationship that has been established between our carriers and their customers based on trust. The carrier in question was honoring a request by a few customers who were being let back in the fire zone to retrieve personal items. A few customers asked the carrier to leave their mail if the mailbox was still standing because they could not get to the annex to retrieve it.”
The USPS and mail carriers also are playing a tremendous role in the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, given widespread cell phone outage. Beyond delivering mail, heroic postal carriers identify individuals who are sick or otherwise in need, and provide that information to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), so that medical help can be relayed to those in need. Ninety-nine of the 128 post offices in Puerto Rico remain open, some now located in tents.
Our local postal carrier is already a hero to me. He is friendly, reliable and goes out of his way to ensure the safety of the mail. No bulky package gets dumped on our doorstep, as he always rings the bell, even when surely it must be after hours for him. Small in stature, he delivers masses of holiday packages with grace and courtesy.
Our heroic postal carriers are among us, providing good service, every day. It comes as no surprise that they are among the heroes in cataclysmic times.
Deadly California Wildfire Doesn’t Stop This U.S. Postal Service Worker From Delivering Mail, by Karen Mizoguchi, People.com, Oct. 12, 2017
Haunting Video shows postal workers delivering mail to scorched homes, by Nina Golgowski. Huffington Post, Oct. 12, 2017
Mexico Earthquake Kills Hundreds, Trapping Many Under Rubble, by Kirk Semple, Paulina Villegas and Elisabeth Malkin. The New York Times, Sept. 19, 2017.
Safari West Fire Updates, Oct. 2017.
Surreal Video of postal deliveries in Santa Rosa neighborhood destroyed by fire, by E. Paul Baca. The Mercury News, Oct. 11, 2017
U.S. mail carriers emerge as heroes in Puerto Rico Recovery. Reuters, via New York Times. Oct. 9, 2017