The Mayfield Post Office sustained severe damage in the Dec. 10 tornado that blew through western Kentucky and underwent a big effort to continue its work, ensuring that customers get Christmas cards, gifts and regular items, during what marks the post office’s “most challenging” time of the year.
“It was drastically affected,” Mayfield Postmaster Josh Jenkins told The Sun.
“One, the whole east side of our building collapsed. We are missing probably 80% of the roof to the building, and most of the equipment on the inside was destroyed. That’s the condition of the building.”
Meanwhile, Jenkins said all 54 employees who are under his supervision are OK. Three of them had major damage to their home and several of them lost vehicles, and had partial damage to their homes, but all of them and their immediate families are “alive and well.”
“The day after it happened, we had a team from Louisville come down, who immediately started up the clean-up process, and basically to clean up around the post office, salvage anything we could salvage and fence it off to protect from people to getting in and getting injured or something like that,” he said.
Equipment and vehicles were sent for the post office from all over, and people “stayed up around the clock” putting together cases, or equipment, for getting mail ready. It also moved in to the downtown Paducah Post Office.
“We basically set up at the Paducah post office to give us the ability to process the mail and get it ready for delivery,” Jenkins said.
The Mayfield Post Office only missed one day of delivery, which was the Saturday after the tornado hit, and it was back the following Monday. He said people who didn’t lose their ability to receive mail at home are receiving mail, while the people who did, along with PO Box customers, can pick up their mail at the Hickory Post Office, near Mayfield.
Jenkins said the mail and parcels in the PO Box section and any mail that was being held at Mayfield when the tornado hit was retrieved. A team of postal inspectors and himself worked throughout the night to retrieve it.
Overall, he described the whole situation as an extreme challenge.
“It’s difficult every Christmas season for every post office. It’s our most challenging time of the year, and to have this on top of it, it was just a phenomenal effort from our employees,” Jenkins said.
“... We put in some 18 to 20 hour days, to be honest with you, and then the first couple of nights, we worked around the clock to get things set up and to not miss delivery, and to make sure we got everyone their Christmas presents, Christmas cards and everything they’re used to and accustomed to receiving.”
It generally sees the parcel volume “close to triple” this time of year, and sometimes even quadruples in the couple of weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday.
“I would also like the community to know that it’s been very great, the outpouring of thanks that we have received from our customers,” he said.
“Most were not expecting to see mail delivery on Monday after the tornado and I have carriers talk to me that said that customers came up to them on the route and hugged them and were thankful, but also just thankful to know that their mail carrier was alive and well because they didn’t know if they were.”
According to the U.S. Postal Service, Mayfield customers who are unable to receive street delivery, and P.O. Box customers, can pick up mail at the Hickory Post Office, 1976 State Route 1241. The hours of operation for Mayfield customers to pick up mail and packages there is 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The Postal Service is also offering Mayfield customers displaced by the tornado an opportunity to pick up their mail on Christmas Day, according to a Tuesday news release. The Hickory Post Office will be open for Mayfield customer mail and package pick up from 8 a.m. to noon this Saturday.
“We are actively pursuing a temporary lease in the Mayfield city limits,” Jenkins said. “I can’t say for sure that we have finalized that, but I think we are very close to finalizing a lease inside the city limits, and then it will be an immediate attempt to get it ready for us to move in, and as soon as we can get there, we’ll get there.”
Follow Kelly Farrell on Twitter, @KellyAFarrell11