Weather, volcano wreak havoc on mail delivery

KILAUEA — Hanalei residents are still trekking to the Kilauea post office for their mail while and hazard response coordinators are working to get the Hanalei post office back up and running after Kauai’s April flooding.

United States Postal Service representatives don’t know how long it’s going to take to get Hanalei’s post office on its feet again.

“We appreciate our Hanalei customers’ patience, understanding and support as we proceed with the repairs that must be made to the Hanalei post office,” said Duke Gonzales, spokesman for USPS. “Those repairs are in the early stages. I don’t yet have an estimate as to how long those repairs will take.”

Extended hours are still in effect for both Kilauea and Princeville post offices, and that’s just on Kauai.

On the island of Hawaii, the USPS is reworking service routes in light of the volcanic explosions that are rocking communities, spewing both toxic gases and hot lava into the streets.

Impacts to the USPS on the Big Island are mostly in the Puna region, and the USPS announced Tuesday the Hilo downtown post office, which closed May 4, has reopened for business.

Evacuated residents in the areas of Pahoa/Puna are picking up mail at the Pahoa post office, and the USPS is asking those who evacuate to submit change-of-address forms so their mail can be redirected in a timely manner.

And while the USPS is making adjustments to serve its Hawaii customers, the project to relocate the Lihue post office from its current location on Rice Street is ongoing.

The USPS announced its decision to proceed with the relocation and consolidation of the post office with the carrier annex facility near the Lihue Airport and finalized the decision Dec. 1, 2017.

“The postal service has determined that the relocation is the optimal solution to satisfy its need to improve operational efficiency and reduce the financial burdens facing the organization,” USPS representatives said in December. “The relocation will allow the Lihue post office to consolidate its delivery and retail operations, which are currently split between the two facilities.”

The decision was made after consulting with the Kauai community at two different meetings in 2017, one in February and another in October.

The Lihue Rice Street post office is still operational, however, and USPS says service will continue uninterrupted until the new facility is operational.

That’s still in the works, and Gonzales said responding to disasters on the Big Island hasn’t taken any resources away from the Lihue project.

A timeline for completion of the relocation, however, hasn’t been set.

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Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at jelse@thegardenisland.com.

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