Signed, sealed, suspended: Mail service spotty in Bethesda, Rockville -- Gazette.Net


Heavy snow Feb. 13 left some residents with nary a letter or grocery store sales paper in their mailboxes last week as the postal service suspended delivery for days after the storm.

Gary Arlen of Bethesda said he did not get mail Feb. 13 — understandable, because of the big snow storm — or on the two days after that. The next two days were Sunday and Presidents Day, meaning no mail for five days.

“We think we don’t depend on snail mail, but we do, and we miss it when it’s not there,” he said.

Alan and Hannah Fisher of Rockville emailed The Gazette to say they got a small amount of mail Feb. 14, but other than that, didn’t receive anything Feb. 13 through 19, almost a week, despite work by City of Rockville snow plows to open roads after the storm.

Laura Dvorak, a postal service spokeswoman, said in an email that the “service issues were an anomaly brought about by the storm and the federal holiday.”

Customers with mail delivery issues can call 1-800-ASK-USPS or visit to let someone know, Dvorak said.

On Friday, five members of Congress sent a letter to the postmaster general to express concern over the service disruptions. The letter was signed by Reps. John Delaney (D-Dist. 6) of Potomac, Chris Van Hollen (D-Dist.8) of Kensington and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Dist. 2) of Cockeysville, as well as Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C.

“A plan must be in place to protect worker safety and ensure that no homes or businesses experience multiple-day delays,” the letter said.

Arlen said he was one of the people who contacted Van Hollen — via email — to complain about the lack of service.

He started getting mail again Feb. 18, after Presidents Day.

“The mail sort of dribbled in,” he said, rather than the delayed pieces coming in all at once. He said postmarks indicated that some things took more than a week to get from another point in Bethesda to his house.

For Arlen, the five-day break in mail service was more of a nuisance than a major inconvenience. He doesn’t get medicine and wasn’t expecting any vital checks in the mail, so the biggest aberration for him was not having a magazine to read on the Metro. Still, he says, people want some things in life, like the mail, to be consistent.

“Luckily, we don’t count on mail for urgent delivery, and at the same time, we count on it being here,” he said.

Arlen said he knows the postal service will reduce mail delivery as people do more business online. In fact, the move from snail mail to email didn’t happen as fast as some people thought it would, he said.

“I don’t even mind if they reduce [delivery] to three days a week or five days a week,” he said. “... Like a lot of people, I just like some regularity.”