Lower East Side-based photojournalist Brittany Somerset noticed that things have not returned to normal at the Knickerbocker Station Post Office, weeks after Superstorm Sandy. Here’s her report:
The Knickerbocker Station Post Office, on the border of the Lower East Side and Chinatown (128 East Broadway) is still feeling the detrimental effects of Hurricane Sandy, over one month after Hurricane Sandy subsided. The violent storm flooded the post office, taking out the majority of its communication systems.
“Many of our phone lines and computers are still down,” one USPS worker said. “As a result, we can’t offer our customers any money orders, and can’t take any credit card payments.” Customers who try to call the post office are continually met with frustrating busy signals.
Hastily made signs, on printer paper, adorn each plexi-glass teller’s window, alerting customers to the fact that if they want to purchase money orders, they should to go to the Pitt Street Station Post Office instead, at 185 Clinton Street.
A customer, who arrived with a shopping cart full of holiday packages to post, was turned away, after waiting in line behind several other customers. She was expecting to pay for her postage by credit card. She approached the window to see small “cash only” signs, in Chinese and English. The teller advised her to either go to Pitt Street, or to an ATM.
Another customer, who arrived 15 minutes before the post office’s closing time, wanted to send a letter Priority Mail for $7. She didn’t have enough cash, so she decided to downgrade, and send her letter First Class Mail instead, for $1.95.
“I don’t have time to make it to the other post office,” she said. “I wish I had known in advance they weren’t taking credit cards. I would have brought a few more dollars with me when I left the house.”
Postal employees at Knickerbocker Station had no comment when asked when they expected their electronic systems to be back up and running, or when they would be able to offer full services to their customers again.