As the Cedar Key community rebuilds after the destruction of Hurricane Hermine, the U.S. Postal Service has opened a mobile post office truck for residents to pick up mail and buy stamps.
The Cedar Key Post Office closed down last Thursday at noon when Hurricane Hermine hit, and has been unable to reopen due to water damage and mold. The mobile unit opened in the parking lot of the damaged post office at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.
Jason Knott, postmaster of Cedar Key for six years, said the process of getting mail to the town’s residents by the temporary post-office-on-wheels is long. The mail is delivered 30 miles away to Chiefland first, where its picked up by the truck, sorted and driven back to Cedar Key.
“The customers are really happy now because it’s saving them a 60-minute drive to Chiefland and back,” said Knott. “Now we’re able to come [here] and it’s just business as normal, so it’s a lot more convenient for them.”
Waiting in line to pick up a backlog of packages, Cedar Key residents passed time by comparing damages wrought on their home by the hurricane – number of trees down, items lost and how long they were without power.
For Renee Payne, a resident of Cedar Key for a year and a half, this was her first hurricane. Despite some minor damages to her home, she considers herself lucky.
“Relatively speaking, we were very fortunate. Our house was up [on stilts] — we’re on the north side of the island,” said Payne.
In a town with a population of only 700 people, Payne was satisfied not only with the speedy service of the Postal Service, but also by the sense of community among the close-knit Cedar Key residents.
After receiving her packages, “someone in line said, ‘Here, can I carry them to your car?’ which is one of the great thing about Cedar Key… you’ve got great people here,” Payne said.
While only cash or check transactions are available at the moment, the mobile post office is working to enable credit card transactions as well, according to Debbie Fetterly, corporate communications officer for USPS.
There is no word as to when the actual post office will be open for business again.
“This is a trying situation for everyone, and we try to work with everyone the best we can,” said Knott. “It’s just new territory.”
The post-office-on-wheels will remain open in the Cedar Key Post Office parking lot at 518 2nd Street until the post office is fully repaired, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday.