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Residents ask questions as Renfrew post office remains closed

For the past month, residents of Penn Township and the surrounding area have had a few extra minutes added on to their daily routine, as the Renfrew post office on East Main Street has been closed to the public following flooding in the area.

Residents, including Bill McDonough, who normally have mailboxes at Renfrew, have had to drive roughly 12 extra minutes each way to the post office in Butler to pick up their mail.

“People down here are really getting mad, because we’ve got to drive 10 miles to get our mail,” McDonough said. “It’s 5 miles up and 5 miles back from here.”

Several representatives connected to the U.S. Postal Service declined to comment on the situation, but one indicated the post office was under repair.

“The facility is still in the repair stage with no set date for reoccupancy,” said Mark Lawrence, strategic communications specialist for USPS’s Atlantic area, in an official statement to the Butler Eagle. “We appreciate customers’ patience and understanding.”

An exterior shot of the Renfrew post office on East Main Street, which has been closed due to flooding damage since late April. William Pitts/Butler Eagle

A news release on April 18 cited the flooding as the cause, saying the 102 E. Main St. location would be “temporarily closed” until further notice.

Renfrew post office box customers were instructed to instead retrieve their mail at the 345 S. Main St. location in Butler.

Customers are directed to the Butler post office to pick up vacation mail, signature-required items or oversized articles.

“A time frame for completion of repairs in Renfrew has yet to be determined,” the news release said.

The timeline of the closure raised concern for Tim Henderson, who frequented the post office. He said the Renfrew post office stayed open for roughly a week following the storm before it unexpectedly closed to the public.

“We were still getting our bills, and all of a sudden … they closed it up,” Henderson said. “To me, it was fine. I didn’t smell anything that was out of the ordinary.”

A heavy storm on April 12 caused substantial flooding in some parts of Butler County, including Penn and Connoquenessing townships and Harmony and Connoquenessing boroughs. The post office is located adjacent to Connoquenessing Creek and was directly in the path after it flooded that day.

Photos amid floods in early April show the parking lot of the post office building was completely unusable.

Henderson expressed concern that an extended amount of time without maintenance in the once-flooded building could lead to mold growth and deterioration.

“When you're flooded out, the first thing you got to do is, you’ve got to get in there and clean all the dirt out, and then you’ve got to dry it out,” Henderson said. “They’ve got the building all closed up, windows and all. If there is any mold, it's just going to keep growing.”

Henderson also said the post office handled things differently 20 years ago, when it was drenched by a flood, which was arguably even worse than the one from last month. On Sept. 17, 2004, as a result of Hurricane Ivan, water levels in the Connoquenessing Creek reached a record 18.17 feet.

“That was the big flood,” Henderson said. “I mean, that flooding went all the way up to the rafters.”

In 2004, unlike the more recent flood, the Renfrew post office placed temporary mailboxes outside for residents to pick up their mail while the building was repaired.

“What they did was they brought temporary boxes and had them out in the parking lot,” Henderson said. “The post office was closed while they were remodeling the inside, but we were able to get the mail.”

An exterior shot of the Renfrew post office on East Main Street, which has been closed due to flooding damage since late April. William Pitts/Butler Eagle

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