Misfortunes pile up for post office in Bridgeport, Calif.
Delivering the Mail by Allen Abel
Out in California’s Bigfoot country, south of Lake Tahoe and east of Yosemite National Park and a long white-knuckle drive from everywhere else on the planet, the few hundred residents of the town of Bridgeport in Mono County await the 2023-24 season’s numerous feet of fluffy snow.
Last winter, the temperatures bottomed out at minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit, the snow turned into an avalanche and the mountain passes north and south of Bridgeport were closed. The snow was followed by biblical downpours, the rains inundated the village, and the little United States post office on Kingsley Street temporarily closed on Feb. 23, 2023, after suffering structural damage from a burst main water pipe.
The U.S. Postal Service reported the closure in a Feb. 27, 2023, press release.
“Roads are currently closed, so no mail can be delivered or picked up at this time,” the USPS said at the time. “We will keep residents abreast of when and where mail can be retrieved after we assess the damage and roads are reopened.”
As of mid-December, almost 10 months later, the building still isn’t back in working order, and, in the words of Meghan Weil, a local business owner, “It’s a mess, it’s a mess, it’s a mess.”
Weil’s shop, Sierra Strange, sits only a few steps from the post office. An artist originally from Long Beach, Calif., on the snow-free Pacific Ocean, Weil sells mythic curiosities of the California wilderness, such as photos of Bigfoot frolicking in a mountain pond and mounted jackalopes.
The Bridgeport post office had been her lifeline to customers far and wide until the building was flooded out of commission.
On Dec. 6, the Mono County board of supervisors sent a letter to the board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service.
In that letter, the supervisors described an ongoing crisis with the post office and told the board of governors that the situation remains unchanged and “your employees must continue to work in sub-zero temperatures with no running water or functioning restrooms as winter 2024 sets in.”
One of those employees is Bridgeport Postmaster Bill Campbell, a devoted citizen and community servant and longtime USPS employee who has kept publicly silent about the situation and who, smack in the middle of the whole brouhaha, was honored in mid-December as the county’s firefighter of the year.
“There have been some days when the post office was closed,” Weil told Linn’s in a telephone interview. “If it gets windy or exceptionally cold they will close and I can’t blame them,” she said.
“What ever happened to ‘neither snow nor rain?’ ” Linn’s asked Weil, referring to the start of the phrase long connected to U.S. letter carriers.
“That would be fine,” she replied. “But not for 10 months.”
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