A U.S. Post Office has been closed for more than a week in the southwest Alaska village of Kwigillingok. After the lone office employee went on leave, residents were cut off from many essential services.
“What if she runs out? How’s she gonna get her medicine? She get’s the medicine through mail," Jimmy Beaver, the acting Kwigillingok IRA Tribal Administrator said. He’s concerned the closure means his wife will have trouble getting medication. But this is not the first time the facility has closed.
“It’s been going on an off whenever she goes to the hospital," Beaver said of Sydnia Phillips, the postal worker, who begun her maternity leave after giving birth last week and does not plan to return to work until August.
“I don’t have anybody," said Elvie Aquino, Phillips’s manager in Anchorage, who says she hopes to get a replacement by Monday.
“I’m calling the nearest post offices to see if I can get them over there to sort mail and stuff like that," Aquino said.
Aquino says she is also putting up an ad this afternoon for a postmaster relief position, the job Phillips has had for almost a decade.
Phillips was not a postmaster but an alternate. But now the backup needs backup, and that’s a problem that wasn’t solved in the nine months before Phillips gave birth.
KYUK: “And how long have you been applying for this?”
“I started applying in February or March," said Victoria Amik, who has been applying for the job since she heard Phillips was pregnant. And she has experience. She's worked at the Kwigillingok Post Office before.
“As a sub, like when they call me to work I’d go work when I can," Amik said.
KYUK: “Oh so you could be doing this job right now?”
“Yes, but they took my name off the employee list," Amik said.
Amik also says she did the same job as Phillips for years but stopped during a two-year stay in Bethel.
Jimmy Beaver, the acting Tribal Administer, says the U.S. Postal Service has not spoken with the tribe to resolve the issue, but if they do, it might be best done over email.