NWS continues operations without pay during government shutdown | News
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC)- Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are still on the job Tuesday though it will be a while before they're paid.
"Just like everyone else we were watching waiting for news, resolution," John De Block with the National Weather Service said.
De Block with the NWS in Calera says he was aware a partial government shutdown would have a minimal impact on the 122 offices across the country.
"The National Weather Service has been deemed to be essential for the protection of life and property," he said.
Which means employees are on the job, but working without pay until the government is up and running again. On Day One of the shutdown, De Block says there's a full staff and all basic services continue uninterrupted.
"We're just going to continue to do our job forecasting, and if needed issue warnings and watches to help keep people safe," De Block said.
But in Birmingham, the shutdown is having a huge impact on the Alabama Air National Guard.
One hundred and fifty technicians of the 117th Air Refueling Wing were furloughed Tuesday.
Fox6 was there when the uniformed members were leaving the base, uncertain how they'll provide for their families.
"It means now I've got to figure out how to pay bills? What am I going to do? How long is it going to take? I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to do," Johnny Everett said.
The 117th normally runs one to three refueling training flights a day, which will drop to once a week. Only mission-critical flying remains in effect.
"A vast majority of our training missions that support operational tasking have come to a grinding halt. We're forced to prioritize to handle just homeland defense alert and immediate needs of our over seas contingencies," Colonel Scott Grant said.
Colonel Grant calls this an operational tragedy. He says the base is in a state of shock and disappointment.
"A lot of folks think only civilians are being impacted by this, there are uniformed troops going outside this gate today. Going home without a paycheck coming," Colonel Grant said.
Colonel Grant did say there are benefits out there for members placed on furlough and he says the men and women were informed of that.
The Associated Press is reporting that leaders from both parties are suggesting this partial government shutdown could last for weeks.
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