Neither snow nor tornado…nothing keeps the Kokomo, Indiana postal employees from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Not even 165-mph winds from an EF3 tornado in August 2016 could deter these postal employees from ensuring every piece of U.S. Mail was dispatched for delivery.
The tornado struck while Kokomo Postmaster Dennis Sweeney and many of his employees were at work. When he learned his own neighborhood had been struck by the storm, the postmaster rushed home. Upon arrival he unfortunately discovered his family home had been lost.
“My first reaction when I saw the house was to drop to my knees,” the 31-year Postal Service veteran explained. “Three of the four walls were gone. The house was completely exposed. It was unbelievable. It was a direct hit and the house was in shambles.”
Turning his thoughts to his family, Sweeney was relieved knowing his wife was safe at work, but their dog, Bella, was in the home at the time the whirlwind struck.
“I thought our little dog, was gone. Then a neighbor came over with her in her arms. She had found Bella sitting on the bed and brought her to her home,” Sweeney said. “It was nothing short of a miracle!”
True dedication to mail delivery
Sweeney then did something quite remarkable, he made the decision to return to work. As postmaster he knew his office was impacted by the tornado and he was concerned about the letter carriers who had been on the streets delivering and those working in the building.
“The power was completely out. We had backup lighting but that soon went. We were lucky because we moved most of our operations to the dock where there was still daylight, making it possible to get the last of the mail dispatched on the truck by 7:30 p.m.,” he said.
While many of the Kokomo postal employees also sustained severe damage to their homes and property, they all also came back to work and pitched in.
“I was never as proud of my team as I was that night,” Sweeney said.
Since the tornado, Sweeney has purchased a new home with special plans for the now empty lot where their old home once stood. “My wife and I have agreed to donate the lot where our house had been to Habitat for Humanity so they can provide an opportunity to give someone in need a home and keep the community going.”
Each year, postal employees go beyond the call of duty, some even risking their own safety to save the lives of the customers they serve; such is the case of this tale of dedication of the postal employees of Kokomo, Indiana who returned to work in the wake of a natural disaster.