Post Office After A Hurricane

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So today we decided nothing was going to bring us down. We still have no communication with the outside world. But we have hot dogs in the ice chest (yum) and a bag of Ice from Hotel Cofressi.

The hotel owners/staff have done so much for this community. They have provided a home including meals for multiple families that lost their houses. They have allowed anyone/everyone to use their phones so people could call the states (when the phone works). They have passed out water/ice.

Keep in mind that half of the hotel was destroyed by hurricane Maria. This season will probably be the worst tourist season in Puerto Rico’s history. Almost all preexisting reservations have cancelled for this year. The owners and staff of that hotel are truly amazing. Again, nothing is going to bring us down today, right.

We spent over an hour driving three miles to get to work. I decided to go to the Anasco Post Office to check email and run some computer programs. That was a huge mistake as it took over two hours to get there and return. I did get to open Outlook and review some emails. I tried to reply to as many as I could but I knew I needed to head back to my office.

At 11:00 am the post office generator at my office ran out of fuel, as predicted. We have been trying to get diesel fuel for over a week. Then two postal vehicles broke down. One carrier had to hitch hike back to the post office as she had no way to communicate. Luckily, she made it back to the post office in less than two hours safely.

The traffic is horrible everywhere. The gas lines are shorter now but you still can’t really drive anywhere after 8:00 am because that is when the gas stations start selling gas and most streets become impassable. The banks have lines of over 200 people or more. The grocery stores have lines to enter. They have security guards in front of the doors. They only allow a few people in at a time. Thank god we have ice and hot dogs and don’t have to worry about that mess for a few days.

I will admit we sweat more and we eat a lot less every day. It seems the day by day task is that of a hunter/gatherer (caveman). Most days involve a quest for these four essential items water, food, gas and cash. Not necessarily in that order but each one does affect the other.

We finally got about forty gallons of fuel for the postal generator around 2:00 pm. The postmaster from Aguada and Aguadilla went out and found a 55-gallon drum. Had it filled somehow. We were able to syphon the fuel over then they headed off to Ramey and San Antonio to provide fuel to those post offices as well. The rest of the day we smelled like diesel fuel. We have lights now but no running water to wash up/off. Then the mail truck finally arrived from San Juan.

Normally our mail arrives around 6:00 am. The truck is full of Rincon mail and Aguada mail. If we don’t process this mail, we will not be able to move around inside the building. It seems every customer wants to know the same thing, “When will my mail arrive?” It is so hard to repeat the same thing and stay positive. “We just don’t know!” We now have 500+ customers daily but that doesn’t include the 500+ customers from the Aguada Post Office. Overall, having one thousand customers doesn’t sound that bad. But when half your staff is unaccounted for and you only have two employees working mail. The task insurmountable. It appears that the mail is about eight days behind. We are not sure as we have little to no communication with Postal managers. We did however have two postal inspectors show up again and ask how we were doing. They left the employee gate wide open and we had customers coming in our back door looking for mail. It was very frustrating as that is there primary job to enforce security.

The 30-40 employees use rain water from a trash can to flush toilets. We have more mail in the building than two Christmas seasons. Customers are mad as hell because they don’t have their Amazon products. We have no access to any form of communication with the outside world or our immediate world. Nothing! And our last two digital TV antenna channels went off air yesterday. The hotspot is useless and cellphones just plain don’t work.

If it was getting better shouldn’t we be getting more information, not less? I finished as much as I could at work and headed home. On the way we stopped by to check on a few friends and ended up having some pizza and a few beers. Wait, cold beers. You have no idea how good a cold beer is after weeks of post hurricane stuff. See, it all worked out. As I stated in the beginning, nothing was going to bring us down today. In fact, pizza does the opposite. It puts a smile on everyone’s face unless it burns the top of your mouth.

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