BY ELONA WESTON
DERIDDER — When U.S. Postal Service trucks cranked up Tuesday and carriers drove their regular routes, DeRidder postmaster Mack Courvelle said a sense of normalcy returned to the area.
"You always see the mail carriers," he said. "It's a normal function."
Courvelle has been driving to the Lafayette area, dropping off mail and purchasing fuel for his carriers.
He said finding fuel has been the difficult task in delivering residents' mail. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Courvelle bought over $400 of fuel on both days and returned to DeRidder and sold it to his carriers.
"I filled up fuel in five-gallon cans and put them in the back of my truck," he said.
DeRidder is normally serviced from post offices in Lake Charles. Since Hurricane Rita, the DeRidder Post office has been receiving dispatches from Lafayette.
"With Lake Charles being shut down, Lafayette is sending us a dispatch every morning and they take back whatever mail we have at that time with them," Courvelle said. "Our alternative is to get it to Lafayette or even Leesville and they get it to Alexandria, which in turn, will get it in the mail stream."
DeRidder has been assisting the rural post offices of Pitkin, Merryville, Grant, Elizabeth, Singer, Dry Creek and Sugartown, which are operating. Postal workers from those offices pick up their mail in DeRidder and drop off outgoing mail.
The only post office that received considerable damage, according to Courvelle, was the Singer Post Office, which lost its roof.
The post office now operates out of the local branch of Singer's satellite branch of the Beauregard Parish Library, on La. 27.
Courvelle said restoring mail service to Calcasieu and Cameron parishes will be difficult.
"They are working now and trying to get them their SSI-type checks and they are making points available for that," he said.
Courvelle has been impressed with postal employees, who he called "upbeat."
"I think when everybody showed up for work on Tuesday and we had power and air-conditioning, I've never seen so many people happy to be at work," he said.
According to information released by the U.S. Postal Service, customers unable to receive delivery at their permanent address due to Hurricanes Rita or Katrina are being asked to file a change-of-address. The quickest and easiest way is to do this
electronically by going to http://www.usps.com or by calling (800) ASK-USPS ((800) 275-8777).
Hurricane victims in areas without telephone or Internet service should go to the nearest post office, complete a change-of-address form, and submit to a postal retail associate at the counter or mail it - it's postage free.
Friday, September 30
BY ELONA WESTON
Posted by American Press at 12:34 PM