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article imageOp-Ed: New Yorkers told to stay off roads, transit as blizzard strikes

By Nathan Salant     Jan 28, 2015 in Environment
New York City - There was a time, not too long ago, when the U.S. Post Office took great pride in delivering the mail to every American, six days a week without fail.
In fact, the facade of the James A. Farley Post Office Building in Manhattan is inscribed with the slogan, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," which many Americans — most of them, probably — consider to be the mail service's official slogan.
But it is not.
The famous words were added to the structure by one of its architects, and actually appear to have been borrowed from the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who lived more than 400 years before the birth of Christ.
That the noble sentiment is not the post office's official slogan was perhaps best displayed Tuesday after a massive snowstorm blanketed the U.S. northeastern coastline with as much as three feet of snow in many places.
The post office closed down.
Of course, delivery of mail to tens of thousands of homes in the midst of sealed-off airports, overwhelmed highways and snow-clogged streets, but still . . . the post office closed down?
It's true that the governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts declared emergencies and banned all driving, except for emergency vehicles.
"Please stay home," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie implored his state's residents, according to the Reuters news service.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned non-emergency vehicle travel after 11 p.m. for 11 counties, including New York City, Long Island and Westchester, and threatened a $300 fine for violators.
"If you are in your car and you are on any road, town, village, city -- it doesn't matter -- after 11 o'clock, you will technically be committing a crime," Cuomo said.
"It could be a matter of life and death, so caution is required," he said.
But Post Office delivery vehicles are federally licensed, meaning that no state or local authority can tell, let alone order, what is now called the U.S. Postal Service to do anything.
Not that they even had time to.
Instead, the Postal Service got out in front of Winter Storm Juno on Monday, announcing on usps.gov that offices and mail delivery would close early in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, and remain closed on Tuesday.
"Strong winds and near-blizzard conditions will continue to make travel and mail delivery nearly impossible," the agency's statement said.
"As a result, the Postal Service has temporarily suspended delivery and retail operations in several locations as we cope with this major snowstorm," it said.
Other notable closures in the region included the United Nations headquarters building in Manhattan and schools up and down the New England coast, such as New York City public schools and Harvard University.
Regional Amtrak rail service between New York and Boston was shut down, as was other service in Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine, New York City's iconic subway system suffered a similar fate.
Most facilities and services are expected to resume Wednesday.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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