Following the horrible wildfires in California, this postal worker is doing whatever possible to help residents return to a sense of normalcy.
Douglas Thron regularly uses his drone to take aerial videos and photos of various areas by him, then shares them via his YouTube channel. One of his more recent videos, entitled “U.S.P.S Postman Delivers Mail Santa Rosa Fires Drone Video by Douglas Thron October 10, 2017” has gone viral due to the actions of the postal worker in it.
The caption of the video gives you a good idea of what to expect:
“Hours after the fires in Santa Rosa I filmed this postal worker still delivering the mail.”
Thron also included links to how people can help those affected by the wildfires.
The video shows an incredibly desolate area, with the only movement from the postal truck.
Thron directed the drone’s camera to pan over the landscape, where most homes are almost completely destroyed, burnt down to their frames and surrounded by sparse trees. There are some truly striking shots where one side of the street remains intact while the other side is completely gone.
The clean and shiny post office truck is a sharp contrast to the scorched neighborhood in Santa Rosa. In the video, we see the driver complete his route like he normally would, stopping at the mailboxes that are still standing.
Thron is a professional drone pilot as well as cinematographer, meaning that his drone flight was legal and posed no risk.
According to an interview with the HuffPost, he noticed the postal worker delivering mail while he was filming the devastation of the wildfires with the goal of raising awareness. Unsurprisingly, seeing a mail carrier going along his normal route was not what Thron had expected to see.
“At first, I thought he was taking pictures with his cell phone but then I saw that he was actually delivering mail. It was just so surreal looking, like he was the only form of normalcy in this whole aftermath, so it kind of stuck out.”
It is important to note that although a ban on aircraft flying above Santa Rosa was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration on Oct. 16, Thron’s drone flight was before this restriction was put into place.
Soon after the video went viral, the USPS explained exactly what happened.
Noemi Luna, the San Francisco District Manager for the USPS provided The Mercury News with the following statement:
“This is an example of the long-standing relationship that has been established between our carriers and their customers based on trust. The carrier in question was honoring a request by a few customers who were being let back in the fire zone to retrieve personal items. A few customers asked the carrier to leave their mail if the mailbox was still standing because they could not get to the annex to retrieve it.”
Apparently, the mail carrier in question had built such a strong relationship with the residents along his normal route, that he was glad to follow this request. Since it was safe to enter the area, the post worker went ahead and delivered the mail, letting residents stay in touch and receive important letters.
The video is most likely surpassing Thron’s goals in terms of raising public awareness of the damage due to the wildfires.
As of the time of this article, the YouTube video has already had nearly 1,331,000 views. Considering that Thron included links for those who want to help, it has hopefully helped improve the situation in the area, in addition to raising awareness.
When describing what he saw via his drone’s camera to HuffPost, Thron explained:
“It was kind of like an all or nothing – either your house was left or it was gone.”
Despite having filmed many wildfires during his career, which began in the early ’90s, he hadn’t “seen anything like this.” The experience also changed his outlook, since the neighborhood seemed so safe.
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Source: Douglas Thron, HuffPost