2013-01-04 / Top Stories

Rockaway Postmaster Details Current Status

By Miriam Rosenberg

Superstorm Sandy threw a lot of curves to the people who live on the Rockaway peninsula.

One was how mail would be delivered in Rockaway. Because of only minor damage at the Far Rockaway Post Office on Mott Avenue that facility became the hub for residents to pick up mail from other branches in Rockaway. During an interview at the Far Rockaway Post Office last Friday, Cassandra Louie, the postmaster for Rockaway and Inwood gave The Wave an update on the postal situation.

In Far Rockaway (11691 zip code) Louie said that “In general all services have been restored. A few places may not have delivery, but it is on a case by case basis.”

That case by case depends on such things as if a mailbox is accessible or if safety issues exist.

Three post offices on the peninsula – Arverne (11692), Rockaway Beach (11693) and Rockaway Park (11694) sustained extensive damage and had to be gutted. Decontamination, removal of debris and sanitizing had to be done.

On December 22 the Arverne facility on Beach 59 Street reopened to allow post office box customers there to access their mail. The hours for post office box pickup are Monday through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

No other postal business is being done, as of now, out of Arverne. Regular mail for zip code 11692 is still being delivered out of the Far Rockaway post office.

Both the Rockaway Beach and Rockaway Park post offices were severely damaged. Mail for post office box customers continues to be distributed out of the Far Rockaway Post Office.

Louie said that the USPS is working with the landlords of those buildings to get work done as quickly as possible. “Repairs continue at Rockaway Beach,” she said. “At this time we are in the assessment and recovery process.”

Work crews are in the process of beginning to bring these facilities back online. For now, those living in Rockaway Beach can use a mobile postal unit in the Commons Shopping Plaza on Beach 88 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard to buy stamps, mail letters or packages or anything else that does not rely on telecommunications. The same is true for the mobile unit outside the Rockaway Park Post Office. Because of the lack of telecommunications services that rely on it – such as the use of credit cards and the sale of money orders – are unavailable. Everything is on a cash only basis. Mobile unit hours are Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

According to the postmaster Verizon is working on reconnecting telecommunications for these facilities.

“We are trying to establish telecommunications to get some service back,” Louie said. “When we can establish strong telecommunications then we will open service on Beach 116 Street.”

Mail for Breezy Point (11697) is operating out of a FEMA Recovery Center at Fort Tilden on State Road.

“We’ve been there since a week after the storm and we will remain there for the next four weeks,” said Louie during the December 28 interview.

“The reality and challenge is that thousands of people cannot go back to their residences,” she said. “Some can’t file change of address because they are in shelters.”

According to USPS press releases Postal officials continue to encourage customers who have evacuated or relocated due to the storm to submit a change of address, place mail on hold or request that mail be temporarily forwarded to their new location.

They can do so by visiting www.usps.com and complete the online request or visit any post office to fill out the Permanent or Temporary Change of Address card.

For those who have not found a place to stay, Louie suggested customers can either obtain a post office box or provide an address of some place they “normally go.”

Hours at the Far Rockaway Post Office are Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

No mail will be released without proper photo identification.

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