‘I am frustrated for my community’: Mail delivery problems persist in Chesapeake

Chesapeake

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — It may sound crazy, but to Brenda Cook, finding a bill in her mailbox would be a welcome sight.

For the last nine days, Cook said there has been no mail delivery to her home in the Camelot neighborhood in the Deep Creek area of Chesapeake. So far, she has not been able to obtain an explanation as to why.

She knows she should be receiving mail. Several years ago, she signed up for the U.S. Postal Service’s informed delivery program that allows her to view images of the exterior, address side of the mail when it is scanned at a particular post office location. She currently has multiple notifications on her phone.

“I had my stimulus check scanned in on the 31st but they have not delivered it,” Cook said.

While USPS does point out that scanned items could take five to seven days for delivery, Cook explained it’s the fact that nothing is coming through that has her upset.

“I am extremely frustrated,” Cook said Thursday night. “I am frustrated for my community.”

Cook said while she initially thought it may be a fluke on her end, she has heard she is far from alone.

“I talked to my friend down my street, her mom has not received her insulin and her mom is not able to go out to a doctor. Everything comes there,” Cook said. “This can be dangerous.”

Earlston Teal, president of the Camelot Civic League, said while the issue doesn’t seem to be affecting everyone in the neighborhood, it’s widespread enough that on Tuesday he went down to the Deep Creek Post Office himself to try to get answers.

He was told that a carrier called out sick and that mail would be delivered the following evening.

“It’s not acceptable,” Teal said. “People need their medications.”

The postal service has been in the crosshairs of controversy for much of the last year. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major donor to former President Donald Trump, took over the mail service in June 2020 and wasted no time making operational changes aimed at making USPS “fundamentally solvent.”

The changes included cutting overtime, taking hundreds of high-speed sorting machines out of service, and removing drop-off boxes.

While many of those changes were halted, recently DeJoy has announced a 10-year strategy to stabilize the struggling agency. Among the changes would be a relaxing of the current first-class letter delivery standard of one-to-three-days to a one-to-five-day benchmark. Hours at local post offices would also be cut.

In response, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats from Virginia, sent a letter to Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to ask for the immediate consideration of President Joe Biden’s recent appointees to the USPS Board of Governors.

“I have heard from too many Virginians who are understandably upset with the poor mail service they have experienced in recent months,” Warner said in a statement. “Louis DeJoy’s failures as Postmaster General are apparent to anyone who has been forced to wait weeks, sometimes months, for birthday cards, bills, or medications to arrive. I recognize that USPS has serious financial and logistical challenges ahead, but the least we owe the American people is a full USPS Board to review DeJoy’s new 10-year plan for the Postal Service. The Senate should confirm President Biden’s nominees as soon as possible.”

10 On Your Side also went looking for answers.

A spokesperson for the postal service said they would look into the situation in the Camelot community.

However, a postal service worker at Deep Creek office who was not authorized to speak publicly, told a reporter that the delays come down to staffing shortages and an increase in packages.

“It’s been like Christmas all the time around here since COVID,” the post office worker said. “Especially after these stimulus checks, we can’t keep up.”

The employee said online ordering — especially from Amazon — skyrockets following the delivery of the stimulus checks.

The employee — who has worked for USPS for more than 20 years said “burn-out” among workers is at an all-time high.

“Seven out of 11 city carriers called out one day last week,” the employee explained.

Cook said she understands times are tough and would have a greater peace of mind if she knew exactly what was going on.

She believes neighbors should be allowed to go to the post office itself to retrieve their mail, when backups occur.

“Communication is everything,” Cook said. “Just let us know what is happening. But to not deliver mail period since March the 29th. That’s unacceptable.”

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