Marshalltown Post Office forges ahead after tornado

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ The Marshalltown Post Office sustained minimal damage in the tornado besides being unable to conduct business transactions for several days. Mail is still being processed, but mail carriers are having difficulty delivering mail to homes on the north side of town, hit hardest by the tornado. Mail that is not able to be delivered may be picked up at the post office, 309 E. Linn St. No postal employees were injured during the tornado.

Sending and receiving mail has become such a mainstay in most people’s lives that when any delays in the process occur it can cause unwanted anxieties.

The Marshalltown Post Office, 309 E. Linn St., has remained operational since the tornado hit. It continues to work with emergency responders in evaluating when it becomes safe to deliver mail to impacted areas.

“Initially, I know first responders blocked several streets off due to the damage and debris, so if the roads aren’t safe to deliver down, carriers can’t deliver there, and people can come and pick up the mail at the post office,” U.S. Postal Service Spokesperson Kristy Anderson said. Local leaders were not authorized to speak on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service.

Anderson said there have been no reports of local postal service employees being harmed in the tornado.

“I know we didn’t have any customers or employees that were affected or injured in any way,” she said. “I don’t believe anyone was still out delivering at the time that it hit.”

Anderson said even when carriers are able to make their way down streets that are impacted, there are not always safe places available to put the mail. Those living and working in the north side of town, where the damage is most severe, are the ones that can expect a delay in receiving mail.

“The south side of town was not impacted and mail is still being delivered there,” she said.

Mark Tauscheck, spokesperson for the Red Cross, has been on the ground in Marshalltown since shortly after the tornado hit.

“If you go west on Main Street from the downtown area and look up the streets to the north, those seem to be ones that at least a couple of days ago were really bad,” he said. “[But] the streets seem a lot clearer than they have been all week.”

The post office’s headquarters received minimal storm damage, primarily to its roof. Anderson noted the damage did not impact day-to-day operations. However, because the facility was without internet for several days, it could not conduct business transactions until the Monday following the storm.

“The mail got sorted, but we didn’t have internet, so we couldn’t use the sales machine,” Anderson said. “But, people were able to come and pick up and drop off mail during that time.”

If any carriers had been delivering the mail during the tornado, there are procedures in place to keep them safe.

“They have to seek shelter immediately, and they know to do that,” she said. “We don’t want them to try and outrun it. If we know ahead of time, and that storm is building up, they will try to get the carriers back in before it hits, but I know with tornado situations you don’t always have enough time to do that.”

Anderson said the postal service relies on its carriers to decide if a delivery route is not safe to attempt or complete.

“If the carriers have any questions about it being safe, they will deliver to the ones (addresses) that can be delivered to safety, and bring the rest of it back.”

For more information, the Marshalltown Post Office may be reached at: 641-752-5841.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com