GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico—With 85% of Puerto Rico still without electrical power three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island Sept. 20, the U.S. Postal Service is now the most reliable system of communication for its 3.4 million people.
Ninety-nine of Puerto Rico’s 128 post offices are delivering mail, some operating out of tents after their buildings were wrecked by the storm. Mail carriers also inform the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster-relief office in San Juan about sick and elderly residents in remote areas where hospitals have closed, so they can get medical attention. “It’s been a clutch situation, and you guys have totally come through,” a FEMA worker told Postal Service Caribbean customer service manager Martin Caballero Oct. 8. “We might know the general area where people need help, but the mail carriers are the only ones who really have the exact addresses.” The National Association of Letter Carriers, which has locals in San Juan and Ponce, and the American Postal Workers Association are among the more than 20 unions involved with the Unions for Puerto Rico relief effort.