9/13/01: Postal Service keeps mail moving along

This story originally appeared on Sept. 13, 2001.

If you dropped into the Champaign post office's 24-hour lobby Tuesday evening to use the stamp machine, you would have found the doors locked.

But that, and flags at half staff, are about the only outward signs at local post offices of the tragedy facing the nation.

"It's not really going to affect us a whole lot," said Danville Postmaster Ron Baize. "They've got contingency plans."

With airports still closed, mail wasn't getting through by plane Wednesday. But the Postal Service had implemented plans to load it on and move it overland by trucks.

"There may be a delay of a day or so," said Urbana Postmaster Mike Pfundstein, especially on mail from the coasts. "It will take a little bit longer. But it's not like things are sitting there waiting."

Pfundstein said the exception is mail from here to New York, which will be held locally for a few days until the situation there is more settled.

Things were pretty much the same at other local post offices.

"The mail is not flying obviously," said David Hickman, plant manager at the Champaign Post Office. "We're delivering everything we have. Nothing has shut down. We're still moving mail."

Hickman said the Champaign post office implemented some additional security measures after the incidents Tuesday morning, the most outward sign the closing of the lobby in the evenings.

In Urbana and Rantoul, Pfundstein and Rantoul Postmaster Mike Hicks said they had re-emphasized existing security measures, some put in place after the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City.

Hicks said that includes requiring packages sent by air to be submitted in person at a postal counter and to have a return address.

"We just reiterated that today," he said.

But he and other local Postal Service officials said the goal was to conduct business as usual for the sake of communities and a nation where communications suddenly have become even more important than normal.

Federal Express and United Parcel Service also were moving packages by ground transport because of the suspension of flights. Even so, Federal Express officials said packages could be shipped to most locations within 24 to 48 hours.

Service to Washington, D.C., had been restored but service to New York and Manhattan probably will remain limited for some time, officials said.

 

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