SNOHOMISH — For two weeks, landlord Barry Brannman has been waiting for two rent checks.
His tenants paid in late December.
But the checks have not shown up in Brannman’s mailbox northwest of Snohomish.
“I have mortgages to pay and need rent checks to pay the mortgages,” he said.
Other Snohomish residents said they have been frustrated over mail delivery delays that began around Christmas.
Brannman said a postal worker on Tuesday at the U.S. Postal Service office in Snohomish told him there was a pile of unsorted mail as tall as him.
“The explanation is that this particular post office has been hit by COVID and had a lot of employees out, and it was right after the snowstorm,” he said. “It was a bad combination of things.”
Brannman said he understands the challenges, but he has lost confidence in the Postal Service.
Stephanie Larson, who lives east of Snohomish, said she did not receive mail between Dec. 24 and Jan. 8.
“Every day we signed up for ‘informed delivery’ — you get an email saying what to expect that day,” she said. “Some machine was scanning it and taunting us with what we should be getting, but it wouldn’t appear for two weeks.”
As she waited, she fretted over receiving retirement and credit card information. Then, on Monday, an “avalanche of mail” arrived, Larson said.
“I just hope it was a blip and not a sign of more things to come,” she said.
Outside the Snohomish post office on Wednesday, Don Miller said he and family members have been waiting about four days longer than normal to receive Social Security checks and prescriptions.
“We were a little worried about it,” he said.
In a written statement to The Daily Herald, U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Ernie Swanson said COVID-19 and weather have delayed mail deliveries nationwide.
Despite local delays, the Postal Service reported it accepted more than 13 billion mail pieces and packages over the holiday season with an average delivery time of three days or less, according to a news release this month.
Meanwhile, however, proposed funding cuts may further delay future deliveries. U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced last year a 10-year plan to slow mail delivery standards and reduce hours at some offices, as the federal agency faces $160 billion in debt.
In Snohomish, communication with the post office has been an issue.
David Preston, who lives south of Snohomish off Highway 9, said he and five neighbors went 13 days without mail.
Preston said he was unable to contact the local post office by phone or email, and his neighbor got little explanation when he went in person.
“It was extremely frustrating, and they had no communication at all,” he said.
Preston sent a letter last week to the Snohomish postmaster sharing his frustrations.
“You have dealt a stunning blow to trust in your operation, and I hope you will take steps to correct the gaping holes in your communications capability,” he wrote.
On Thursday, an employee at the Snohomish post office told a Herald reporter no workers were available for interviews.
An employee at another post office in Snohomish County, who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for her job, said many post offices are short-staffed as they work to clear a backlog from the holidays.
“Somebody is retired, or somebody is out sick, or everyone is overloaded,” the employee said.
Many postal workers have retired or quit during the pandemic, the worker said.
The mail carrier of nearly 30 years asked for the public’s patience and understanding.
“We are doing the best that we can,” the employee said, “especially with the snow.”