US delivery firms warn of East Coast delays after hurricane
North Carolina bore the brunt of the storm on Saturday, with eastern coastal areas facing major flooding from coastal storm surges.
Further north, parts of Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Vermont faced major floods from the heavy rain as the hurricane passed through on Sunday. Although damage has been estimated at $10bn, it was generally less than had been feared.
Power outages were the most common problem reported, with millions facing blackouts over the weekend, and hundreds of thousands left without power today, as the downgraded storm progresses through Canada.
The Hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm as it approached New York, where the city weathered the storm well, though suburban and coastal areas have experienced flooding.
Over the weekend around 9,000 flights were cancelled, along with regional trains, though transport is generally getting back to normal this morning.
Mail and express operators were resuming normal operations today, having put contingency plans into action at the weekend, including moving aircraft out of the path of the storm.
The US Postal Service reported a number of inaccessible postal facilities in North Carolina at the weekend, where Saturday deliveries were suspended.
Processing facilities in North Carolina and Virginia were using back-up generators yesterday, as power outages continued in the wake of the storm, while dozens of post offices also do not have power.
Damage is currently being assessed, the USPS said.
Maureen Marion USPS spokesperson in New York, said today that USPS is continuing recovery efforts regarding impacts in Vermont, suburban New York and pockets of rural Connecticut and New Jersey where power losses continue and roads remain inaccessible.
“In many spots, power is out, but limited retail goes forward. In other sites, post offices are okay but deliveries are a street by street decision,” she said.
UPS said it has now resumed normal operations today “to the extent that conditions permit”.
Company spokesman Norman Black told Post&Parcel that drivers were dispatched this morning, and was experiencing only localised impacts in certain places, including flooding and obstructed bridges and roads.
Over the weekend, the company repositioned 16 of its heavy jets away from East Coast areas, but the aircraft are now back in place and the UPS airline is operating as normal.
“We were fortunate that this happened over a weekend – almost all of our volume moves Monday through Friday,” said Black. “We take our lead from local authorities – when they order evacuations, we comply. They were expecting that this stork would cause quite an impact, but with one or two exceptions, like the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the flooding in Vermont, we did not see too much of an impact.”
UPS is currently making no pickups or deliveries in certain areas in North Carolina, refering customers to its ups.com website for information on shipments including zip codes of affected areas.
FedEx told Post&Parcel that contingency plans implemented before the hurricane struck helped lessen the impact of Irene on facilities and aircraft.
The company’s spokesperson said normal operations had resumed today, though with some delays in places.
FedEx Express customers will be impacted by delays with package pickup and delivery operations in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York, as well as in North Carolina coastal areas, Eastern Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington DC.
FedEx Express facilities in Manteo, North Carolina, are closed and will not reopen until conditions are safe for pickup and delivery operations.
Customers of FedEx Ground will see delays with package pickup and delivery operations in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina coastal areas, Eastern Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington DC.
“There were widespread power outages, significant road flooding and downed trees that could result in some service delays,” said FedEx spokesperson Paula Bosler. “But, services are resuming today. We are especially proud our FedEx team members who worked hard over the weekend to assess facilities, account for employees and reposition freight, allowing us to resume service for our customers.”
FedEx customers are being encouraged to check on their shipments through fedex.com or by calling out 1-800-GO-FEDEX.
Story updated 3.02pm with more details on FedEx and UPS services.