Mail rerouted to other plants after outage in San Francisco : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Published Wednesday, October 25, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News

Mail rerouted to other plants after outage in San Francisco

No delivery problems expected as machines sort excess pieces BY PUTSATA REANG Mercury News

A power outage at the U.S. Postal Service's San Francisco processing and distribution plant forced 500 employees to go home early and millions of pieces of mail to be rerouted.

But postal officials say residents here can still expect to get their mail today.

Tuesday night, the approximately 8 million pieces of mail that go through the plant at 1300 Evans Ave. were either shipped or rerouted to the Postal Service's three other Northern California distribution plants, located in San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento.

Mail processing machines at each location are fully capable of handling the extra mail, said Dan De Miglio, postal spokesman.

``It's nothing unusual for us to be facing a crisis,'' De Miglio said. ``Every holiday we have a crisis.''

Mail service at those other locations will not get backed up -- and employees there likely won't have to work much overtime to get the mail out on time -- because the machines were immediately programmed to handle the extra work load following news of the outage, De Miglio added.

Power at the plant blew out at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday. By the evening, maintenance workers at the plant were still trying to determine what caused the outage. They suspect the problem could be related to the main power fuse system or the switching gears, De Miglio said.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews disconnected the main power line so that postal service workers could examine the building, but the outage did not originate from any PG&E line, said Staci Homrit, PG&E spokeswoman.

By Tuesday afternoon, a portable generator was used to light the San Francisco plant. If the power continues to be out, more generators would be brought in to power the sorting machines so that workers could resume their jobs today, De Miglio said.

He said the Postal Service is well-equipped to handle crises. In the Oakland Hills firestorm nine years ago, which destroyed more than 2,000 homes, crisis centers were set up at which residents could pick up and drop off mail, ask that it be forwarded or sign up for a free post office box.

And in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Postal Service transported mail by helicopter for a month before its distribution centers began operating again.

De Miglio didn't know how many customers at the Evans Avenue plant were turned away. If the power is still out today, the postal service will set up a mobile unit to collect mail, he said.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 25, 2000

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