Checks, Not Catalogs, Are in the Mail

DALLAS With postal and parcel services limited or suspended in the hardest-hit areas of the Gulf Coast, direct marketers are withholding shipments to ZIP codes in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, industry executives said.

To allow for delivery of Social Security and payroll checks and other vital mail, the U.S. Postal Service said it is not accepting standard mail or periodicals in some of the affected areas.

With some of its 6,000 personnel still not accounted for, the USPS has restored delivery service to about 75 percent of residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina, postal officials said.

In Louisiana, postal services have been restored to 30 percent of the state, according to the USPS. Sixty New Orleans-area post offices are back in service, including eight that opened this week, the USPS said. In Alabama, 100 percent of the post offices statewide are fully operational. In Mississippi, delivery and retail service have been restored to 87 percent of the state.

United Parcel Service, Federal Express, DHL and other delivery services are also limiting shipments to scores of ZIP codes in Mississippi and Louisiana. DHL has launched new service to Baton Rouge, La.

The USPS reported that more than 100,000 households of affected residents have filed a change of address and that Social Security checks were sent to more than 27,000 recipients at mobile locations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Some checks have been returned to the U.S. Treasury Department, the USPS said.

With the storm heading toward shore on Aug. 26, the USPS diverted Louisiana mail to Houston. At the same time, mail and equipment at the New Orleans processing center were moved to the upper floors before the evacuation. Repairs to Postal Service facilities have been estimated at $100 million.