PULASKI, Va. – People in southwest Virginia who tried to go to their local post office Thursday are feeling frustrated after they received an unwanted surprise.
The United States Postal Service issued an emergency suspension in Pulaski, closing down the building for safety reasons.
The post office will be closed starting Friday. Many people didn’t find out until making their routine trip to the post office Thursday. Johnny Howlett, a Pulaski resident, said he is outraged by the short notice.
"It galls me to no ends because they just drop it on you like a bomb, and it's obvious that they well-planned this in advance. They had letters ready for you, contingencies, plans,” Howlett said.
The U.S. Postal Service posted an emergency suspension notice on the doors and handed out letters to all residents with P.O. boxes stating that the office would close within 24 hours.
"It really upsets this town because there are so many people that have to walk to this post office to get here. This is the county seat. Can you imagine a county seat that doesn't have a post office?” Howlett said.
The letters gave a vague reason for the closure, stating 100-year-old building was a safety concern.
USPS spokesperson Tad Kelley said in an email to WSLS 10 that the building would be checked for mold, among other issues. Kelley did not cite a specific reason for the closure.
Official response from Kelley:
"Concerning the Pulaski Post Office, due to conditions that require corrective safety measures at the Pulaski Post Office, and for the safety and comfort of our employees and postal patrons, operations at the Pulaski Post Office have been temporarily suspended and moved to the Dublin Post Office located at 1 Town Center Drive.
This temporary change will be in effect beginning Thursday, July 20. In the meantime, customers may pick up their mail with proper identification at the Dublin Post Office beginning Friday, July 21.
We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers. At present, a timeframe for reopening of the Pulaski Post Office has not been determined. Assessments of the repair work, needing to be undertaken, have not yet been conducted.
In addition to the Dublin Post Office, alternate postal services in the vicinity of the Pulaski office include: stamp booklet availability at Wells Fargo Bank, Food Lion, Walgreens, and CVS. Nearby Post Offices include Draper (4300 Academy Street), and Newbern (5339 Wilderness Road). Also, patrons can buy stamps online at www.usps.com/shop or by phone at 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724).
Additionally, customers who wish to obtain Post Office box service may do so at the Dublin post office, Window service hours at the Dublin office are Monday through Friday are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Again, we express our apologies and remind our customers this is a temporary suspension and are working diligently to restore postal services."
Rural mail service will not be disrupted. Debbie Therrien, of Pulaski, said that won’t help her. She said it’s important to have a P.O. box.
"For security reasons and unfortunately, theft, it's very important. That's the reason why I have had once since '92. I know my mail will be there," Therrien said.
Now, those with P.O. boxes or those who need to purchase postage will have to drive to Dublin to go to the nearest post office. People who live in Pulaski say it’s a huge inconvenience because many people walk to the post office every day.
"My medicine comes in a bag and I was supposed to get it today. I guess it will be in there tomorrow but I'll have to go to Dublin someway and get it,” said 81-year-old Don Whittaker.
"I think it's going to be a tough haul for some of the older people to get to Dublin to get their mail," said resident Rolf Burger.
The letter from USPS states a decision to close the building permanently hasn't been made. People here are hopeful the post office will reopen.