Despite the oft misquoted unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service — “Neither snow nor rain nor sleet nor gloom of night can keep these couriers
from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” — snow can keep some mail from being delivered.
That’s the word from Gardner Post Master Wayne Sourk.
As businesses and residents attempted to thaw out after a massive storm dropped more than a foot of snow on the Kansas City metro area Tuesday night, the post office wasn’t the only place where things weren’t business as usual.
Schools, city, county and state offices – even Oak Pall Mall – shut down Tuesday afternoon.
Mike Marriott, owner of Marriott’s Garage and Tow in Gardner, said he took his tow trucks out of service at about 5 p.m. on Tuesday during the height of the snow event.
“If it’s not an emergency, you just have to park them,” he said. “Or you’re just out there with everyone else – stuck.”
When they fired up the tow trucks again after roads were clearer early Wednesday morning, Marriott said he only had one call for a tow truck.
“I think everybody knew (the storm) was coming,” he said. “Everybody kind of got prepared, drove slow and didn’t go out unless they had to. Everybody had plenty of time to be prepared for this one.”
While things were back to normal at Marriott’s Garage by Wednesday mid-morning, Sourk said that wasn’t the case at the post office. Postal workers only delivered first and second class mail Wednesday – what little there was to be had.
Mail from outside of town is often flown into the Kansas City International airport. From there, it’s sent to a post office in Kansas City, Mo., for sorting before being delivered to local post offices on trucks. With the airport shuttered on Tuesday afternoon, and several road closures – including Interstate 70 Highway between Kansas City and St. Louis, little mail made it to Gardner.
The Gardner Post Office typically receives several truckloads of mail each day, but on Wednsday, they didn’t get a single mail delivery.
“We don’t have any first class mail, because we didn’t get any trucks,” Sourk said.
First class mail includes priority mail, non-advertising mail, or anything with a 44 cent stamp, but Sourk said the only letters the post office delivered on Tuesday were letters that were dropped in Gardner post office boxes addressed to Gardner addresses.
That amounted to very few letters.
“We had like 20 pieces that people had brought in over the weekend,” Sourk said. “We’ll get those to them.”
Mail arrived as usual on Tuesday leading up to the worst parts of the storm, but Sourk said there were a few places that day that didn’t receive their mail. In those places, mailboxes were buried in mounds of snow.
“Carriers said they couldn’t even see the boxes,” Sourk said. He hoped carriers would be able to make those deliveries Wednesday in the storm’s aftermath.
Post office officials weren’t, however, sending carriers out to deliver advertisements until roads and side streets were in better traveling condition.
“It’s just not safe,” Sourk said. “We’ll give the city a chance to clean up everything and make it a little better to get around.”
Mail from Gardner to addresses outside of town did make it to Kansas City as usual, Sourk said, and he anticipated all mail would be hitting mailboxes by Thursday afternoon.
In his more than 25 years with the U.S. Postal Service, Sourk said this is the first time he can recall a post office slow down.
“I know it has happened in other places in the country, but I’ve been here almost 28 years and we’ve delivered mail everyday,” he said.