published Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Even in bad weather most mail goes through

by Andy Johns
  • photo
    Gabriel Higdon, who has been delivering mail since 2001, leans out of his vehicle to reach a mailbox as he travels the icy roads of Lookout Mountain on Wednesday. Higdon said he's been able to complete most of his route, but has been unable to reach a small number of mailboxes.
    Staff Photo by Jake Daniels

Gabriel Higdon spun his mail truck's tires, sloshed through the streets and leaned way out over piles of snow to deliver mail around Lookout Mountain on Wednesday.

When he got to 87-year-old Jim Glascock's house, where the snow was nearly 13 inches deep around the mailbox, he decided getting mail into the box wasn't good enough.

Glascock shuffled out the front door, where Higdon met him with a stack of letters, bills and magazine subscription offers.

"You're an angel," said Glascock, digging in his wallet for a tip.

Higdon turned down the cash and hopped back in the truck to move on to the next address.

"What a saint he is," said Glascock as he thumbed through the envelopes.

Neither snow nor ice kept Higdon and other carriers around the region from delivering their parcels — most of the time.

"We've got a job to do and, unfortunately, when the weather gets bad, we've still got to do it," said Beth Barnett, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service in the Nashville office. "We've made all the deliveries that were passable, where the carrier can get to the mailbox."

Higdon, who has delivered mail on the mountain since 2001, estimated that he could not reach 20 of the 400 boxes on his route Tuesday. Another Lookout Mountain carrier said she was blocked from six out of 300.

On Wednesday, Higdon followed his route, spinning his chained tires in a few spots and often leaning far out the truck's window to reach the box. Part of the problem, he said, is that the snow plowed off the road piles up on the shoulder — right where the mail trucks need to go.

"If you get off the road, you're stuck," he said.

His boss, Postmaster Robin Randolph, said every letter carrier on the mountain had to be towed back onto the road at some point Tuesday. She said the Georgia side of the mountain has been worse, but she figured more than 90 percent of the mail has been delivered on schedule.

"If we can get to the box, we're delivering," she said.

Susan Rosenberg, a spokeswoman for UPS, said most routes were back on track as the roads thawed Wednesday. After pulling drivers off the road earlier in the week, the Chattanooga UPS hub sent out 85 of its 86 drivers Wednesday, she said.

The UPS website lists entire ZIP codes that are shut down in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, including areas around Bridgeport, Ala., and Blairsville, Ga.

Even where the trucks are running, some packages may not have been delivered.

"There may be isolated roads that are still impassible," Rosenberg said. "We may be out delivering, but the businesses themselves are closed."

Judy Mahaffey, customer service supervisor at the U.S. Postal Service General Mail Facility on Shallowford Road, said most of the mail around the Chattanooga area is being delivered and all 12 area post offices have remained open.

While several trucks have slid into ditches, one of the biggest challenges has been making sure employees can get to the office.

"Once they got to work, they were doing pretty good on most roads," she said.

But some homes or businesses with steep grades or deep ditches may still have empty boxes, Mahaffey said.

"It may be another day or so before we are able to get to those," she said.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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stingking4 said...


January 13, 2011 at 8:51 a.m.
rockman12 said...

I don't know where they have delivered the mail but it hasn't been on my road. The last time the mail was delivered was on Saturday.

January 13, 2011 at 8:55 a.m.
factfinder said...

To stingking4 and rockman12 it is obvious that you have the wrong names. It should be "stink king" and "rockhead". The USPS didn't invent the rain, sleet, or snow motto. I would tell you who did but I don't suffer idiots very well. If you haven't gotten any mail it is probably because this is the third worst snow in the last 50 years. Of course this wouldn't make any difference to people who only live to be critics and whinners. Do the world a favor and read a great statement that Theodore Roosevelt made about your type.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man that points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” So until you try to carry mail in the snow; you are just a cold and timid soul of losers.

January 13, 2011 at 11:03 a.m.
esaletnik said...

"To stingking4 and rockman12 it is obvious that ...Username: factfinder"

Someone needs a chill pill

January 13, 2011 at 12:03 p.m.
rockman12 said...


January 13, 2011 at 1:41 p.m.
cbqouo said...

Mail carriers do not usually live where they deliver. Just because your neighborhood was fine doesnt mean the carrier could get out of his or hers. Wonder how much money it cost to tow out all those vehicles at least once ... I also wouldn't expect someone to risk his or her life just so i could get my mail

January 13, 2011 at 3:40 p.m.
factfinder said...

I went in also rockhead(a rockman would have a rockhead) and don't worry about me growing up. Again your facts are weak. Fedex and UPS have mainly package delivery to businesses which are usually on a street or highway that have been salted or sanded. Mail has to be delivered to mailboxes where roads are not touched expecially out in the counties. The average postal route in Chattanooga is about 700-900 stops which is far more than Fedex or UPS. In addition, most postal vehicles didn't have chains due to incompetent management. If they have an accident then usually discipline will follow. But the mail will go through in spite of critics or anthrax or anything else.

January 13, 2011 at 5:22 p.m.
NorthChatter said...

Actually, FedEx and UPS didn't make all their routes on Monday and Tuesday either (at least they didn't on Frazier Avenue).

This is not a complaint...I realize that people are out there trying to do the best they can.

January 13, 2011 at 11 p.m.
DaffyDill said...

If you think the roads are clear enough for delivery where you live and you didn't get your mail delivery, stop whining and go to the Post Office and pick up your mail. Your carrier (if he/she could actually get to work) is doing their best to get mail to you. When it risks their lives or their vehicles, I appreciate them affording more importance to that than to delivering mail. I'm sure you would do the same thing if you walked in their shoes.

January 14, 2011 at 6:10 p.m.
Paulie said...

I could care less if the mail takes a couple days extra to get to me. I have a life and don't sit looking out the window to see if the mailman is running on time. Now the paperboy...that's a different story, he's gonna catch hell if he's in a ditch somewhere.

January 20, 2011 at 10:34 p.m.
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