New Address System Helps Emergency Response

In the small community of Molokai, where driving directions are usually given in relation to trees, landmarks and neighboring family names, identifying numerical street addresses can sometimes seem unnecessary. However, inconsistencies between Highway Contract Route (HCR) delivery addresses used by the U.S. Postal Service and the physical address assigned by the County of Maui have caused some confusion, as well as delays for emergency response personnel like police and firefighters. Thus, by June of 2014, the HCR delivery service, denoted by “HC01” box addresses, that starts in Kaunakakai and extends east must be changed to county-assigned street addresses. The change will affect 235 residences on Molokai.

“Up until this point, we’ve been working off of who [on the crew] knows where someone lives,” said Fire Captain Steve Eminger, who has been a firefighter for 27 years, the majority of his time spent at Kaunakakai Fire Station. “Now, because Molokai is growing, there are people we don’t know, so the addresses will help us with all the names we don’t recognize.”

A notice from the Post Office was sent out in June to all affected residences that currently own an HCR delivery box, according to Kaunakakai Post Office Postmaster Christina Sarmiento. The notice announces that “to be in compliance with the Maui County 911 emergency system, all HCR delivery addressing must be the county-assigned street address.”

Affected residents will have about two years to notify friends and family of their address change, as well as their banks, insurance or utility companies. After that, there will be a one-year grace period in which mail will still be forwarded to old addresses. As part of the transition, some residents have started putting both their HCR address and their street address on parcels and packages to ensure mail is delivered to the proper place, said Sarmiento. For credit card and utility bills, there is a section that residents may easily fill out in the event of an address change.

“It’s an unexpected inconvenience,” said Wavecrest resident Chevy Levasa. “It’s like moving but you’re not physically moving.”

To be efficient, Levasa is notifying friends and family of her address change via her annual Christmas cards.

“It’s a great time to let them know because you’re going to mail them out anyway,” said Levasa.

To help with the transition, the Kaunakakai Post Office provides forwarding packets free of charge to residents, which includes postcards that may be sent to friends and family to notify them of the mailing address change.

Residents are also required to change the number on their street-side mail box from the current box number to their physical address by June 2014. Updating driver’s license information is suggested but not required, according to officials.

While there have been a number of delivery system changes in the past, Sarmiento says that the change from HCR to street addresses will be the last permanent change for affected residents on Molokai.

“Over the past decade, the county has established street addresses for locations on Molokai based on Tax Map Key numbers in order to improve its ability to respond to health and safety emergencies, among other reasons,” said Duke Gonzales, corporate communications specialist for the U.S. Postal Service.

Most residences have county-assigned street addresses already, but affected residents are encouraged to call the Maui County Development Services Administration (DSA) at 270-7242 to verify their street addresses, said Gonzales.

For any further questions or concerns, call the Kaunakakai Post Office at 553-5845.


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