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What we didn't miss in Hurricane Sandy: Mail

November 1, 2012: 3:28 PM ET

Storm showed how little letters matter these days.

New Yorkers headed to Starbucks for Internet access. Few noticed that the mail hadn't arrived.

FORTUNE -- Hurricane Sandy has cut off power to downtown Manhattan, more than doubled commute times (if they are possible at all), and made phone calls hit or miss. But there is one thing no one seems to be worried about: the lack of mail.

The U.S. Postal Service stopped delivering mail mid-day Monday to areas that were in the path of Hurricane Sandy. Mail service resumed on Wednesday night in the region. Mail distributions centers are open, even though New York City's main post office on the west side of midtown Manhattan remains closed with no power. A spokeswoman said they will deliver mail where possible, but she said she expected deliveries in downtown Manhattan would be delayed.

Nonetheless, that hasn't left a lot of people wondering were the mail is. Wall Street Mail, a business that delivers mail in bulk to offices in downtown Manhattan, says it has only received seven calls from its well over 100 customers located downtown to redirect their mail. "If everyone was calling it would be crazy," says Patrick, a supervisor at Wall Street Mail, which despite its name is located in Long Island City and is open for business. "We haven't gotten that many calls."

MORE: Sandy brings an unexpected stimulus

These days, it seems obvious that e-mail is an essential part of doing business in modern Manhattan. But Hurricane Sandy underscored how little letter mail matters.

Gary Goldstein, who runs the Whitney Group, a top Wall Street executive search firm, says he did check his office mailbox when he finally returned to his office on Thursday morning for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit. There was nothing there. "I still have some clients who pay by check," says Goldstein.

Goldstein lost telephone and internet service at his home in Bedford, NY during the storm. He says post-Sandy conversations with neighbors were dominated by talk about when access to the web would be back. No one asked about the mail. He says he drove around with his phone on Wednesday trying to get access. Eventually he went to his gym, which was packed. "There wasn't a plug open for a laptop," says Goldstein. "People were standing outside Starbucks with their phones up."

A Google search for "mail delay" brings up no news about the hurricane. The third entry is about what to do when e-mails are delayed. A similar search of Twitter finds no results for "mail delay" or "postal service."

MORE: How Wall Street went to work with the lights off

One thing that it appears we can't live without is gossip and news website Gawker. A search of Twitter turned up dozens of messages saying the blog, which had its computer servers in a flooded building, was down. One message about the site being down was retweeted nearly 1000 times. The New York Times wrote an article on its website about the fact that Gawker and other website were not working. The paper does not appear to have written an article about the postal service.

Gawker had a modified website back up and running on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, the site had a headline that read, "The Real Question: Who didn't have sex with Neanderthals?"

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About This Author
Stephen Gandel
Stephen Gandel

Stephen Gandel has covered Wall Street and investing for over 15 years. He joins Fortune from sister publication TIME, where he was a senior business writer and lead blogger for The Curious Capitalist. He has also held positions at Money and Crain's New York Business. Stephen is a four-time winner of the Henry R. Luce Award. His work has also been recognized by the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the New York State Society of CPA and the Association of Area Business Publications. He is a graduate of Washington University, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.

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