Housing, safety and national parks affected by government shutdown

National park closed due to Government shutdown.

National park closed due to Government shutdown.

America is in the second week of the partial government shutdown, and many government agencies, such as NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency, remain mostly shuttered.

Even the White House is feeling the effects, with about 3 out of 4 staffers furloughed.

Businesses are seeing fewer customers, research institutions are cutting back, court cases are being delayed, and entire industries have been placed on pause.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is pretty much shut down, but public housing is mostly operated by more than 3,000 local housing authorities nationwide.

They already had money in hand to pay for housing vouchers and other major programs this month. They’re nervous, however, about what they’re going to do if the shutdown hasn’t been resolved by Nov. 1.

“The question is whether or not they will be receiving funds going into November, if there’s no one at HUD to keep the lights on and keep the money flowing,” says Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Even organizations charged with the safety of Americans are being affected. In an interview with Huffington Post, Dan Sobien, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, said that he worries emergency preparations are being shortchanged. He pointed to preparations for the storm that had been anticipated to become Hurricane Karen that degenerated to a tropical depression.

“When a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching land, we would request extra upper-air balloon launches. We do them twice a day and typically they would ask for them four times a day, which gives you better information and a sampling of the atmosphere,” Sobien explained. “In the case of Karen, that didn’t happen. When we asked for the additional balloon launches, the hurricane centers said we didn’t need them. … My guess is there was some sort of budgetary reason that they were not admitting too.”

Eight people died and 14 were injured when a North Carolina church bus crashed into an SUV and a tractor-trailer after it blew a tire and crossed a median on Interstate 40. Due to the shutdown, the National Transportation Safety Board did not send anyone to investigate. Nor did they probe the death of a Metro subway worker killed a few days later in a tunnel explosion. The Centers for When a salmonella outbreak linked to chicken produced in California sickened 278 people in at least 18 Western states, because of the shutdown, the Centers for Disease Control had no access to its national network of labs that tracks outbreaks.

National parks and monuments are closed. Most of the monuments in Washington, D.C., including the Lincoln Memorial and its reflection pool, are not being maintained.

Many states are experience financial hardship because of the closure of national parks. Utah has five counties that have declared a state of emergency due to the financial losses of the closure of national park areas.

Not all the effects of the shutdown are bad. Tennessee has 54 state parks that are open. Many individuals who planned to be in National parks such as the Smokies, have had to change their plans and head to state parks instead.

“As a result of the park closing, which, of course, we didn’t want, we’ve seen an uptick in business,” said Eric Hughey, Fort Loudon State Park manager. “We’ve definitely seen in an increase in the number of people calling to see if we’re open and if they can move their family picnics here.”

Reportedly, over 35,000 people visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each day in October. Much of that traffic is being rerouted to our state parks.