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Employees rise to the challenge of record flooding

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Because of winter flooding, the Eureka, MO Post Office became an island, forcing a total closure for three days.
Because of winter flooding, the Eureka, MO Post Office became an island, forcing a closure for three days.

Rare winter flooding socked the St. Louis area closing Post Offices in Missouri and Illinois. The flooding was the result of heavy rainfall in November and December that climaxed with more than 10 inches of rain over a three-day period that began on Christmas day.

The Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau, MO set an all-time flood record of 48.86 feet, breaking a record set during the floods of 1993, the National Weather Service said. The Meramec River at Arnold, MO crested at 47.3 feet, 2 feet over the record set during the Great Flood of 1993. According to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, the floods damaged or destroyed an estimated 7,100 structures. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner issued state disaster declarations for 23 counties, mainly in central and southern parts of the state.

The Eureka, MO Post Office was one of the many Post Offices impacted by Meramec River flood waters, which caused closures and the relocation of delivery operations for three days.

“They relocated us to the Manchester office 21 miles away,” said Officer in Charge Lillian Conforti. She explained that because of numerous road closures, it took employees two to three hours to reach the facility. She was impressed with their efforts to keep operations going, including one employee who returned early from vacation to help.

“Everyone did what they needed to do to help out! We definitely worked as a team,” said Conforti including all the extra help from the Gateway Operations Programs Support team.

Even though the Post Office was completely surrounded by water, “by some miracle,” the building stayed dry. “We did move the LLVs to high ground but still five LLVs had to be towed due to water damage,” explained Conforti.

Other Post Offices also resorted to creative measures to sort and delivery mail such as the Fenton, MO Post Office, which established an alternate site on the parking lot in the adjacent retail center. Employees unloaded mail by hand from arriving trucks from the St. Louis Processing and Distribution Center, staged it by type and route, loaded their vehicles and began their appointed rounds.

On January 4, USPS issued an Industry Alert notifying customers of resumption of services at 12 Post Office closed because of flooding, including the Eureka, MO Post Office.

“Everyone was happy to be back in the building,” said a relived Conforti as employees resumed normal operations in providing essential mail service to grateful customers.

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