Winter Weather Leads to Broken Mailboxes Across West Michigan

Posted at 7:58 PM, Feb 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-06 20:43:27-05

WEST MICHIGAN (Feb. 6, 2014) — Residents across West Michigan are reporting broken mailboxes due to road plows hitting them and tossing heavy piles snow.

“The chain is actually holding [my mailbox] around the pole,” Mattawan resident, Marsha Fifolt, said.

She said her mailbox can’t support itself. In addition to the chain, the mound of snow around it keeps it functional. This week, she said a county plow driving down Red Arrow Highway struck it.

“When my dad was sitting in his office, he saw the snow plow hit the mailbox and it just went over,” she said.

If the road commission is at fault, will the county fix or replace it? She hopes so, but that’s for Craig Ericksen to decide.

“That’s where a mailbox used to be,” Ericksen pointed out a different mailbox to FOX 17.

He inspects broken mailboxes for the Van Buren County road commission. He determines if a county plow did the damage.

“That does happen. Roads get narrow. Boxes get close to the road,” Ericksen explained.

Erickson also replaces the mailboxes himself with a standard $12 mailbox, along with a wooden post, if necessary.

On his county map, dozens of blue dots represent complaints received by the road commission. Ericksen said 162 broken mailboxes have been reported so far this winter in Van Buren County. Inspecting them in no particular order, Ericksen said it’s fairly easy to determine if a plow physically struck the mailbox.

“This mailbox here is at least 6 feet away from where our truck would be. There’s no way that our truck could physically hit that mailbox. So it’s pretty easy for me to tell that that’s done with the force of the snow coming off of the blade,” Ericksen explained.

But if the mailbox was only hit by snow pushed by the plow and not the plow itself “this homeowner would take of it own there own, that’s there responsibility.”

Fifolt insists her mailbox was struck by a county plow. But even if it was just it by flying snow, Fifolt said, “My philosophy is ‘you break it, you buy it.'”