BUFFALO, N.Y. - The United States Postal Service prides itself on delivering the mail in the harshest of conditions. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night" is supposed to slow a mail carrier, according to the agency's unofficial motto.
Yet, somehow, on a perfectly sunny Friday in Buffalo, the Postal Service temporarily suspended mail delivery at 31 Marine Drive, a Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority building known as The Coastline. The problem, however, wasn't snow, rain, heat or gloom of night.
It was roaches.
"To the point where it's disgusting," Toni Guercio said, standing in the lobby area of her apartment building. "This has been going on for years."
Guercio said she observed a mail carrier with roaches all over his feet on Friday afternoon, which prompted her to call Consumer Affairs at the Postal Service. A USPS spokesperson confirmed in an email to 2 On Your Side that mail carriers did temporarily suspend service "because of carriers' concerns on the condition of the interior -- rodents and insects." The Postal Service notified BMHA, which sent crews to clean up the bugs in the lobby near the mailbox area. The USPS spokesperson said mail carriers came back to The Coastline at the end of their route and eventually delivered mail to all the residents' mailboxes.
Even so, 2 On Your Side clearly observed bugs roaming around the bowels of The Coastline late Friday afternoon. Each person who stepped off the elevator in the lobby seemed to have their own story of roaches, and many of them were appalled to learn that the problem was so bad it forced even the United States Postal Service to halt delivery for a few hours.
"Just because we're public housing," Guercio said, "doesn't mean we have to live like this."
Modesto Candelario, the assistant executive director of the BMHA, said his agency had not received any complaints from the Postal Service prior to Friday. However, he said BMHA has been aware of roach issues at The Coastline for a few months, adding that it appears the problem is originating in the compact room and the compactor.
Candelario said BMHA hired a contractor to sanitize and clean the compactor as much as possible. In addition to its own staff, a private cleaning company has also been on site, as well as an exterminator that comes once a week.
"We can assure them we will continue to work on issues as they arise," Candelario said, when asked if he could assure residents they would no longer have to deal with this problem. "I'm not going to guarantee it's never going to happen -- because it could happen, you never know -- but we are on top of it. Our staff, every time it's been aware of a situation like this, we try to hit it as hard as we can."
Shortly after an interview at his office, Candelario appeared on scene at 31 Marine Drive to inspect the problem for himself. On Friday evening, a spokesperson from Mayor Byron Brown's office said the mayor became aware of the issue and directed a city exterminator to spray the building. The mayor's office will monitor the situation over the weekend, the spokesperson said.
Building management has also been in contact with residents about how to properly dispose of garbage, in an effort to tackle the bug problem.
But many people who live here -- including longtime resident Danny Rogers -- said they're desperate for a permanent solution.
"Now they want to cancel our mail in our mail slots? Come on," Rogers said. "Come on, now."
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