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Post offices under flood of mail

SUMMIT COUNTY – The adage says the mail gets delivered whether there’s rain, sleet or snow, but whoever coined the expression probably never counted on a Colorado blizzard.

The closure of Interstate 70 for 60 hours this week put a choke-hold on travel and business. Tourists and truckers stranded in Summit County quickly depleted inventory at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.

The closure also prevented U.S. Postal Service trucks in Denver from delivering packages and letters to the post offices in the mountains. By Friday afternoon when mail trucks finally began arriving, the delivery became a deluge for postal workers.



“We got a truck in this morning – we’re swamped,” said Breckenridge Postmaster Cheryl Binding. “We’re trying to sort it all and get it into the boxes by 3 p.m.”

Two trucks delivered mail to the Frisco post office Friday – two days’ worth. A day’s mail volume is several hundred packages and as many as 11,000 letters, said supervisor Gary Hansen. To make matters worse, mail trucks also were diverted by snow in Denver, preventing sorters from organizing the mail before shipping it up to the mountains.



“Typically, they’d sort 9,500 of those letters in a day’s mail down there,” Hansen said. “We’re doing it all here. The poor woman in the back’s been sorting for four hours straight.”

Employees at the Dillon post office were still waiting for mail to arrive Friday afternoon. Postmaster Rick Sprague said employees used the down-time during the storm to take care of odds and ends such as cleaning and training.

“I was gone myself – stuck in Empire the last three days,” Sprague said.

Post office employees also spent the storm explaining to customers why mail hadn’t arrived. Many people didn’t connect the fact that mail wouldn’t arrive if the highway is closed, employees said. “They don’t airlift it in,” Hansen said, “but people kept checking their boxes anyway.”

The postal workers expected business to return to normal early next week. More trucks will arrive over the weekend, and crews will work on Sunday to continue sorting mail.

“Tomorrow, I expect, will be a disaster,” Hansen said. “We’ll be here late.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.


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