Dealing with the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey for Catalogers

by Stephen Lett

blown over mailboxes by hurricane

The thousands of families and people who have been displaced by Storm Harvey is tragic. This is the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history at more than $100 billion as reported by ABC’s Good Morning America on August 31, 2017. The full impact of Harvey will not be known for weeks but what we do know is devastating. Your printer has most likely notified you about the impact of Harvey on mail deliveries in Texas. There are over 100 Zip Codes affected by the storm, a number that is likely to increase. The affected Zip Codes represent, on average, approximately 3% of our merge outputs. This is a fluid situation and there are several issues. Consideration needs to be given to house file mailings vs. catalogs going to prospects. A mailer also needs to know what to do now vs. longer term. For example, when should they start mailing to the affected Zip Codes again. At Lett Direct, we have a plan which is as follows:

  • For catalogs already printed, we have had the printer “pull” the affected Zip Codes from the mail-stream even though these catalogs have already been ink-jet addresses. They won’t get delivered therefore, the postage can be saved.
  • For catalogs that are about to go on press, we are suppressing the affected Zip Codes from the mailing.
  • For catalogs that have been printed but not yet ink-jet addressed, we are dropping the affecting Zip Codes. We will use these catalogs to mail deeper to the house file so that these books will not go to waste.
  • We are eliminating affected zip codes from future rental and coop database list orders and will do so for at least 1-2 drops.

Some Zip Codes will come back on-line sooner than others. Therefore, we are remaining in touch with the printers who remain in daily contact with the United States Postal Service for this information. Printers will be supplying updated zip codes to us on a regular basis, so that we can adjust which zip codes to avoid when processing your mail files, using the latest information.  It is important to note that due to the lead time in processing and mail delivery, when a zip is no longer on the USPS list of zips to avoid, it will still be roughly 3-4 weeks before they hit in-home.  We feel that the additional time of being in-home 3-4 weeks from when a zip is considered mailable again, is beneficial.