PORTER, MAINE, Maine — Porter and Parsonsfield may have a combined population of more than 3,000, but residents claim only one U.S. Postal Service mail carrier has been delivering mail and packages over the last month, leading to delayed mail and days where no mail comes at all.
"I think I only got mail once this week," James Hilliard said.
Hilliard is the owner of Porter Village Farm and said he's lived in Porter for the past 10 years and never encountered mail carrier shortages.
"I asked them about it, and they said it was a staffing shortage. I know they are working hard down there," Hilliard said.
NEWS CENTER Maine attempted to interview the sole mail carrier, who also acts as the postmaster for the Parsonsfield Post Office.
He told NEWSCENTER Maine to get approval from the USPS Regional Northeast office in Boston in order to interview him, but the regional office declined requests for that interview.
In an email, the regional office said staffing shortages are common during summers when postal carriers take vacations.
"We use every resource available to us, including authorizing overtime, delivering mail earlier or later in the day or on Sundays, and, in extreme cases, having postmasters, managers, and supervisors delivering mail to ensure our customers get the service they deserve," a spokesperson said in an email.
But Carlene Wentworth, who said she's lived in Porter all her life, said mail service has never been this bad, even during summers. She's also in her 80s and can't drive to pick up mail herself.
"I don't think it's very fair what's going on here. I think we should get our mail every day. You probably get your mail every day. See, we don't out here because we're in the woods," Wentworth said.
She also doesn't have internet and can't check Facebook to confirm when mail is coming her way.
The regional office in Boston said there are 38 openings for USPS jobs in Maine, while other states have more shortages, including Vermont, which has 62 openings.
Hilliard said the higher USPS offices need to step in.
"I don't think they should let the Parsonsfield front office and the postmaster swing in the wind to piecemeal it together," Hilliard said.