Families feeling the impact of federal shutdown

3:14 PM, Oct 1, 2013   |    comments
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(USA Today) -- Dana Johnson dreamed of getting married in Yosemite National Park ever since, as a child, she saw a wedding with the park's breathtaking vistas and Yosemite Falls as a backdrop.

Almost two decades later, the 27-year -old nurse from San Diego is set to be married at the park's Glacier Point on Friday.

Maybe. The government shutdown means Johnson's dream wedding -- and weddings scheduled in parks across the nation -- is up in the air.

On Tuesday, Johnson, her mom and sister were driving the seven hours to Yosemite to check on contingency plans in case the park remains closed the rest of the week. She says they will either reschedule, find another spot near the park or get married at home in San Diego. She says she doesn't know which is the best option because of the uncertainty surrounding the length of the shutdown.

"It was my childhood dream; I've always wanted this," she says. "I feel so hopeless. It's out of my control. I'm at their mercy and I can't do anything about it."

Families across the nation are feeling the impact of the shutdown that began Tuesday. For many, the shutdown is a serious financial concern.

In Gettysburg, Pa., furloughs are now a family affair for Andrew and Stephen Robinson. Both are employed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Emmitsburg, Md. Both are among hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors now facing furloughs. Neither is happy about it.

Stephen Robinson, 51, a maintenance worker for almost five years, was told his schedule will at least be cut back. Andrew Robinson, 20, a part-time contract coordinator for the National Fire Academy faces the prospects of no employment at all.

"My dad is the primary breadwinner for our family," says Andrew, a junior at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. "It's tough when you realize you may not get a paycheck, when you don't know how long you will be unable to work. It's stressful."

Andrew says he also feels the impact as he juggles bills for school, car and health insurance.

"It's disgraceful that congressmen and women will keep their paychecks coming but deprive the hundreds of thousands of middle-class government workers," he says.

Dave Donohue, a San Francisco resident, doesn't work for the government. But he is concerned about a family trip to Mexico planned for next month. Donohue, 41, his wife Kathleen and their 11-week-old son Milo plan to celebrate Milo's grandmother's 75th birthday.

But Milo needs a passport to travel to Mexico. Donohue, of San Francisco, says he submitted his son's passport application two weeks ago. Now it's a race against time. The State Department has said applications will continue to be processed, but that could change if the shutdown drags on.

Donohue says that if he can't get a passport in time, it could cost him up to $6,000 in airfares, his share of his extended family's housing costs and other expenses.

"I can't imagine that Mexican border authorities are going to care that my son doesn't have a passport because the U.S. government stopped working," Donohue says.

Karen Carey, 36, of Lyndonville, Vt., resident and her family expected to achieve their dream of homeownership this fall. Now "we are at a standstill."

The Careys loan officer says the shutdown could delay their Nov. 15 closing and force them to get an extension on their sales agreement. It also could affect the interest rate they had been offered.

"I'm hoping for myself and family that it is a small blip," Carey says of the shutdown. "It's a big deal. It puts our life on hold.

"You cross the hurdle that the home inspection goes well. You get all the paperwork in on time. You cross your fingers that your loan gets approved - and then they just throw a stop sign up," Carey said. "It is frustrating to have no say."

Amy Schumann, her husband and 19-month-old son have traveled from Bozeman, Mont., to New England, bound for Acadia National Park in Maine. Now they holed up in Vermont, canceling their hotel reservations in Maine and trying to make new plans.

"Due to it (Acadia) being deemed operated by 'non-essential employees,' we have to figure out a new plan," Schumann says. "And we won't be helping the local economy by spending money on gas, food, etc."

Joey Moppert works for the oil and gas industry in Denver. For him, the shutdown's impact involves work and play.He says he was supposed to drive to Cheyenne, Wyo., this week to work with the Bureau of Land Management office.

"Now it is shutdown so I cannot do my job," Moppert says. "I also was planning on going up to Yellowstone National Park next week for vacation but that is shutdown as well. I'm glad Congress is getting paid to act like children and we in the real world are feeling the effects of incompetence."

It's a long way from the quiet, rustic Vermont town of Derby, where Irene Ames has been making baskets for many years, to Washington, D.C.

But Ames, 70, was headed to Washington this week for a celebration of her work, and the work of dozens of other basket makers, at the Smithsonian Institution's Renwick Gallery.

That reception won't happen. A smaller, off-site celebration is now planned. The baskets remain locked up in the closed gallery.

"We already made plans to go, so our family is going to go and celebrate her work anyway," says her son, Adam Ames, who lives in New York. "But obviously my parents are disappointed."

(USA Today)

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