Like its namesake off Bermuda, the Edgartown Triangle has long been the site of mysterious disappearances, mail mostly. But after the events of last week, jokes about the Edgartown Post Office — and there are many of them — somehow seem less funny.

In a small Island town the local post office occupies an outsized place in the community. For the past week, some three thousand box holders and other postal patrons were forced to drive to Vineyard Haven where after searching for a parking spot and waiting in long lines they may or may not have been able to pick up the letters and packages they were expecting. Social Security checks, tax documents, medications, college acceptances, letters from loved ones — these make up the small, but critical silt of life still carried by the postal stream.

To be sure, the post office was not the cause of the recent fiasco. The responsibility for that rests squarely with the building’s owner, real estate developer Charles Hajjar, and his clueless contractor, who evidently unaware that it rains in the springtime, failed to take precautions when removing the roof to construct second floor apartments. In a letter that appears in this issue, Mr. Hajjar apologized for the inconvenience, but only after telling a reporter earlier this week that the problem was caused by bad timing. “Who would ever think we’d get this much rain and wind in April?” he memorably asked.

The postal service, whose mystifying organizational structure seems to include many masters but no chiefs, was similarly slow in acknowledging the gravity of the situation. An early news release casually advised residents to go to Vineyard Haven or Woods Hole to get stamps for the unspecified duration of the closure.

That the two parties who might have made things better were a private developer and a federal agency didn’t stop a frustrated and angry public from blaming town officials. In fact, one does wonder why the building inspector did not compel the contractor to take the matter more seriously in early March when rain damage first appeared and caused the post office to close briefly. Work continued for weeks afterward with no apparent effort to shield the construction area from the elements.

As the week ended, however, it was efforts by town administrator Pamela Dolby to resolve the situation that finally seemed to get the attention of Mr. Hajjar and the post office. Post office district manager Michael Powers, touring the rain-soaked building on Thursday, declared the damage extensive and agreed to take steps to relocate operations to the Carnegie library temporarily. Mrs. Dolby and the selectmen deserve credit for stepping into the breach.

The whole mess has raised anew old complaints about the construction project itself, which was approved by the town planning board and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission over the objections of many neighbors. Concerns then centered on traffic and parking, but Mr. Hajjar’s stated commitment to affordable housing carried the day. Beyond a written apology, Mr. Hajjar — himself a seasonal resident of the Vineyard — has much work to do to clean up the tangle at the Triangle and prove that his interest in contributing positively to the Island is sincere.