Residents of the rural northern community of Wainwright say they are struggling after the closure of the local U.S. Post Office more than two weeks ago.
Robert Grimes, principal of Alak School in Wainwright, said the closure has caused several families in the school and the community to be cut off from their mail, often including paychecks, food, and other essential items flown in from other cities in Alaska.
“I have teachers that are running out of medications, out of food, need to pay bills, get there checks, etc.,” Grimes said in an email Sunday. “It is the same for the people in the village. There are no roads out here. We do get small planes out here twice a day but it you have to ship stuff in cargo. It's very expensive; the mail is subsidized and that's how everything comes through.”
Grimes has contacted several officials, from USPS employees to U.S. senators. Committee Aide to House C&RA Kimberly Clark from the office of Rep. Benjamin Nageak (D-40, Arctic), shed some light on the closure of the post office. In an email to Grimes, she stated USPS employees did not have the Wainwright post office on a list of expected closures.
An email from Sen. Mark Begich’s (D-AK) office forwarded the USPS’s reason for the closure. Following the loss of the previous Postmaster, a replacement had still not been found.
“Unfortunately, we are experiencing challenges with finding a Postmaster or Postmaster Relief who is available and willing to fly in to Wainwright and Levelock to operate the local Post Offices,” said USPS spokesperson Dawn Peppinger.
“When you shut down the post office, you shut down the lifeline.” Grimes said. “We're not getting food. We're not getting mail, we're not getting medications. All that stuff is held.”
Interested Wainwright residents can apply to work as Postmaster Relief by calling (907) 261-5450.
The Wainwright post office serves the communities of Wainwright, which has a population of roughly 575 people.