Illinois Tornadoes Don’t Stop Ottawa Post Office™
Ottowa Letter Carrier Leticia Guzman delivers after tornado strike.
Ten tornadoes crossed northern Illinois, with the strongest two impacting the communities of Naplate and Ottawa. According to the National Weather Service, the two twisters registered EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with winds between 136 and 165 mph. The February 28 Naplate to Ottawa tornado killed two persons and injured 14. The largest hail reported in the area was in Ottawa, which was equivalent to the size of baseballs.
Day of the Ottawa tornado
On the day of the storm, Ottawa, IL, Customer Services Supervisor Mark Thompson used a computer to monitor the progress of four carriers returning from their routes. Soon electricity was interrupted and the employees had to manually lower the metal partitions to secure the retail window. The employees quickly gathered in the storm shelter area to wait out the high winds from the Illinois tornado .
Ottowa, IL Rural Carrier Linda Shcaibley
“I’m so thankful for these guys making me stay here in the building because if I would have taken my typical route home I would have been on a bridge about the same time the tornado crossed over it,” said Rural Carrier Linda Schaibley.
Business as usual for Ottawa Post Office
Ottowa, IL Letter Carrier Marlon Collins
Days after the tornado devastation, Letter Carrier Marlon Collins was still navigating around debris to make deliveries. “Residents were glad to see me delivering their mail,” said Collins. “One guy gave me a grilled-cheese sandwich and said I was a hero. I told him they were heroes for helping out their neighbors.”
Ottowa, IL Letter Carrier Kathy Taylor
Letter Carrier Kathy Taylor had a similar reception with her customers. “People told me, ‘I can’t believe you’re out here.’” Taylor also explained how she realized her customers were family with mail delivery playing a key part in their life together.
As the city removed debris from the Ottawa tornado and repairs beginning on damaged homes, the Ottawa Post Office made adjustments for mail delivery. “Carriers brought a sense of normalcy to their customers,” said Thompson by noting, “Just by doing their jobs.”
USPS Contributor – Bryan Reeves