FOX 8 Defenders: Mail mix-up investigation prompts public meeting

WESTWEGO, LA (WVUE) - The City of Westwego plans to hold a public town hall meeting on a mail delivery problem impacting residents and business owners after two FOX 8 Defenders reports first exposed their concern this year.

In February, the Defenders reported that homeowners and at least one business owner in Westwego have trouble getting their mail. Some told us they've experienced the problem for more than 30 years. Then in April, the Defenders reported the Postal Service planned to meet with local and congressional leaders to address the issue.

Now, it's up to local officials to make something happen.

"We are working on this issue, and I can assure you we are gonna solve it," said Westwego Mayor John Shaddinger, who told FOX 8 he had never been approached about the concern prior to our stories. The post office operations manager responsible for Westwego reached out to Shaddinger in a letter dated April 18 requesting a meeting to resolve the concerns.

"When I got involved in this I said, you know what, I think this is a federal issue. I want my congressman here, and Cedric Richmond's office was very receptive," explained Shaddinger, who told FOX 8 that he met with reps from Richmond's office and the Postal Service.

Avondale, Bridge City, Westwego, Waggaman and Nine Mile Point all use the same zip code of 70094, and within that zip code, there are several duplicate addresses. According to Mayor Shaddinger, about 88 customers are affected.

Tony and Tiffany Venezia are in that number. "We live at 129 11th Street, Westwego, Louisiana 70094," explained Tony in a February interview with the Defenders. The Venezias said their mail sometimes gets delivered a few miles away to another home with the same street address, 129 11th Street - but in Bridge City, not Westwego.

They turned to the Defenders, and we learned that both houses, the one in Westwego and the one in neighboring Bridge City, not only share the same address, but they have the same zip code of 70094. "How can you have the same address twice in the same zip code?" asked Tony. Just as confusing, the facade on the Bridge City post office branch that is in Bridge City spells out Westwego, Louisiana. "Our mail keeps going over there. Their mail comes over here," said Tony.

"If there's an emergency here, and we're using a cell phone, how do we know which house to go to?" asked Mayor Shaddinger. In his opinion, that's the biggest issue.

USPS Public Affairs Officer McKinney Boyd emailed FOX 8 a statement.

"The Postal Service's proposal is to change the (duplicate) delivery addresses in either Westwego or Bridge City. However, the Postal Service does not assign municipal addresses, thus the parish or the municipality has to make the determination of which addresses to change."

"We could change the name of one of those locations, change the name of the street. Well that's a bit complicated, expensive issue, you know, especially if you know you just had one of those name plates put on your mailbox or the front of your house," said Shaddinger.

Until the city calls for a public town hall meeting for people in the affected areas, the USPS suggests people use the zip plus four, which is the four digits that follow the 70094 zip code.

The Defenders will continue to follow this story.  In the meantime, if you have something you'd like the Defenders to investigate, call 1-877-670-6397 to speak with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women.

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