‘We’re not always heard:’ West Richland mail carrier asks community for help during inclement weather

RICHLAND, Wash. — Katherine Krisher zips up her jacket, grabs a handful of mail, and heads up the stairs to ring a doorbell.

Then she repeats the process. Again. And again. And again.

“I mean some routes take four hours and some routes take six hours,” Krisher said.

She’s been a rural letter carrier for ten years for the West Richland Post Office and previously for Pasco.

Her day starts at eight a.m., rain or shine.

“No matter the weather, we’re out here getting it done,” Krisher said.

It takes a while to load up the truck with mail before she can even hit the streets. But once she does, she moves fast to get your packages delivered promptly.

However, the freezing weather, cold conditions, and current wind storm are making the job even harder than it normally is.

READ: Road Conditions: Latest storm impacts from Snoqualmie Pass to the Tri-Cities

“Walking up to houses is a piece of cake. You just follow their pathway up to their house, you pull up to the boxes, you get out to deliver the mail with no problem. You don’t really have to worry about slipping on ice and things like that,” Krisher said. “But when we get the amount of snow and ice and just overall bad weather that we’ve had, it just piles up so fast that people can’t even keep up with it.”

According to Krisher, the weather has a direct impact on how quickly they can move. It’s an unfortunate side effect for such a timely job.

“It really slows us down. We also have to wear the chains on the back when the snow gets as bad as it was and we can only go 25 miles an hour,” Krisher said. “It’s just overall harder when you have to fight the elements.”

That’s why she posted what she calls “educational tips” on Facebook Thursday night, pleading for the community to help out their local mail carrier.

#1 if you have cluster boxes in your neighborhood, please take the time to clear a path from the curb to the boxes as well as in front of the boxes. 
#2 I know plows going thru the streets cause big snow berms against the sidewalk or on the sidewalk. Please clear your sidewalk and at least a 10-15′ footpath next to the sidewalk so that our vehicle can get as close to the curb as possible so we aren’t having to park so far from the curb, potentially blocking traffic or getting stuck in the huge snow pile. 
#3 If you have a single box, please clear in front of that box as well as a 10-15′ long path in front so that your carrier can safely pull up to and away from the box.
#4 A lot of people use their garage to come and go from their homes and don’t even attempt to clear their pathway or stairs to their house. When we deliver a package, it gets delivered to the door. Just because you don’t use your front door, doesn’t mean that the path doesn’t need to be cleared. Delivery people use it as well as emergency crews if you ever needed them during that time.
#5 Clean your sidewalks! Carriers that are on foot all day have to walk thru that stuff. We are on the street all day and the last thing we need is getting out feet wet and cold within the first hour of an 8 hr ( or longer) shift. We don’t get to go inside and warm up, the heater in our trucks are a joke and do absolutely nothing. Once we get cold, it’s hard to warm up.
#6 Empty your mailboxes! Especially if you have packages that have been delivered. You are not our only customers and those parcel lockers need to be free so we can use them for other customers. We are out there all day in the cold, you can go out for 5 min and empty it. If not, your boxes could be cleared and you can drive to the post office to pick up your things…your choice.

“The purpose is to educate,” Krisher said. “We really do appreciate it when we see a clear path. It makes it a lot easier when things are shoveled and cleared for us.”

READ: US Postal Service recovers from poor holiday showing in 2020

The extra help from the community would also come at a time that’s been “more intense” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been delivering way more packages than normal,” Krisher said. “We were breaking records so it was intense. It was like Christmas all year round for 2020. It was really, really crazy.”

If you can’t help out with the weather, she recommends placing snack baskets by the front door with things like water bottles or Gatorade.

“It just makes our heart so happy,” Krisher said. “We really appreciate the people that do go that extra mile. With little things, it’s just like, ‘Wow, you thought about me.’ That’s really sweet.”

Krisher noted that any added effort can make a world of difference to not only her but mail carriers everywhere.

“We’re not always heard and seen but we do go through a lot out here, so any little bit really helps,” Krisher said.

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