Rats, Structural Concerns Close Maunaloa Post Office Temporarily
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
Several weeks after a week-long closure of the Ho’olehua Post Office due to structural concerns, the Maunaloa Post Office is now closed because of “vector control concerns,” according to the U.S. Postal Service — in this case, rats — and poor building condition.
Duke Gonzales, a Honolulu spokesperson for the USPS, said the closure last Wednesday, Feb. 24, was “prompted by customer and employee concerns about the state of the facility.”
“…We are attempting to resolve our concerns with the facility landlord and will reopen as soon as those concerns are addressed,” he said.
There is currently no timeline for reopening.
In the meantime, the 240 box holders in Maunaloa are asked to pick up their mail at the back door of the Ho’olehua Post Office, which is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 4 p.m.
West end resident Edie Anderson said postal workers are “doing a wonderful job in terrible circumstances.”
“This is a terrible situation for all of us who live out where mail is not delivered,” said Anderson. “…The building is old and should have been condemned long ago…. The employees deserve better as do residents no matter whether they live in Maunaloa or all over the West End.”
Fellow West end resident Erin Peyton reported rats have eaten through many packages.
“Maunaloa Post Office has had a rat and moisture problem for months,” said Peyton, via email. “The rats have chewed through the electrical wires. The Postal workers are at a health risk and are having to work after their shift at another location to enter electronic data. The facility does not have adequate space to store all the mail and package.”
In an attempt to improve the situation for both employees and customers, Peyton and others filed claims with the USPS.
“I have been trying to support the postmistress since December and getting no results,” continued Peyton. “Folks on the west end were asked to submit claims with the USPS but the website was down. The USPS rep was aware and recommended we kept trying.”
Gonzales said the decision to temporarily close the facility was made on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Peyton said other locations are reportedly being looked at to house the post office, and extermination services are being brought in from off island, but the USPS wouldn’t confirm that information.
Peyton said Maunaloa Post Office not only services the 240 box holders reported by the USPS but also more than 450 condo units that share post office boxes, leading to overflow problems in the post office building.
Gonzales said back in 2012, the Maunaloa Post Office was reviewed for potential closure, due to its small size.
“There are no discussions about proceeding with that possibility at this time,” he said.