Post office remains open, though delivery suspended, customers should call ahead to see if packages available

NILES — As temperatures plummeted into the subzero range Tuesday night into Wednesday, post office headquarters issued a mail carrier suspension across southwest Michigan, including Berrien and Cass counties Wednesday.

While mail carriers were not sent out into the cold, Oscar Obregon, postmaster, said the post office retail counter was open and available to serve customers. He advised anyone to call the post office or check their package tracking number before they go outside.

“What I would do, is have them look at [their tracking number] to make sure that it is here before they come out here and realize that it is not even here,” Obregon said.

Customers can also call the post office to see if their package or mail is ready for pick up at (269) 683-5520. Post office officials announced they would close at  5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. Wednesday, due to the weather.

In addition to the frigid temperatures, which fell to record-breaking levels of -19, not including wind chill, whiteout conditions in the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo area kept mail transport trucks from being able to deliver to the Niles area this week.

“We have not seen a truck since yesterday [Tuesday] at about noon,” Obregon said. “Usually we get a noon and 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. trucks. [But] we have not seen one since yesterday.”

He said carriers could still choose to come in and earn their working hours on Wednesday or take paid vacation time.

Obregon said the post office’s priority was keeping its employees safe. Due to the risk of frostbite when exposed to the temperatures Wednesday, he said carriers could not safely be outside.

“Our carriers are out there [on a typical day] for eight hours at a time, which would make it impossible for them to come back without frostbite. We don’t want to take that chance with our carriers,” Obregon said.

As of Wednesday morning, a source confirmed that carrier operations were also expected to be suspended into Thursday.

 

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