Mail service is so reliable that itâ€™s easy to take for granted. It is as important as food or water, however, to those who depend on their Social Security and other government checks, Veterans benefits or vital medications.
Hurricane Katrina hit just days before those checks were to be distributed to homes across the Gulf Coast.
“Storm Stories: Postmark Katrina,” which airs on The Weather Channel this Sunday night and follows Storm Stories’ “Hurricane Katrina Anniversary Special,” examines how the United States Postal Service dealt with the challenging task of restoring mail service to many along the battered Gulf Coast within three short days of Katrina’s hit.
The USPS had many obstacles: Some post office buildings were completely destroyed, one of them only recognizable by a lone flagpole amid a pile of rubble.
After a necessary break-in to salvage hundreds of pieces of undelivered mail in downtown New Orleans, the USPS scrambled to assemble all postal employees who survived the storm into the buildings that could still be used for mail service.
The USPS’ challenges that followed included a severe gas shortage, long lines of desperate people waiting for their checks and medications, communications issues, and the relocation of more than 400,000 evacuated people across the United States.
One way to bring people back together was a change of address system, which helped to reunite several families. U.S. postal inspectors also helped with FEMA checks that needed to be delivered to those displaced by Katrina.
Hurricane Rita posed a new challenge as workers struggled to restore service to New Orleans just weeks after Katrina roared ashore.
Plenty of powerful images and meaningful interviews make this episode of “Storm Stories” worth watching.
The episode, hosted by Weather Channel Meteorologist Jim Cantore, airs on Sunday, Aug. 27, at 8 p.m. EDT, as a part of The Weather Channel’s special Katrina coverage that runs through Aug. 29. The “It Could Happen Tomorrow: Katrina Lost Episode” rebroadcast follows at 9 p.m. EDT. My review from June is here.
The Weather Channel’s Katrina coverage features live reports from meteorologists revisiting the Gulf Coast, and news segments including “Superdome: Then and Now” and the rebuilding of a flooded Ninth Ward home.