The U.S. government prepares for storm impact despite shutdown

Posted at 7:12 PM, Oct 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-03 19:12:30-04

The government shutdown is not stopping the National Hurricane Center from keeping us safe and informed as Karen threatens the United States.

"They're considered essential to the welfare and safety of the public, so the National Hurricane Center remains open during this shutdown phase," said Dennis Feltgen, Public Affairs Officer for the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, to NewsChannel 3 by phone.

Feltgen returned to work Thursday after being furloughed.  He says most employees at the National Hurricane Center, however, are being required to work without pay through the shutdown.

"We are not sacrificing our mission to save lives [and] protect property. This is not going to be compromised in this shutdown," said Feltgen.

The Hurricane Hunters - the planes that fly into the storm - will also not be compromised. In fact, flights will continue to gather the latest data and information despite the shutdown.

"We're not missing a beat on any valuable information that we get from the aircrafts," said Feltgen.

But after a storm makes landfall and causes damage during the government shutdown, who will respond?  In a statement released Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, says it has "begun to recall currently-furloughed employees necessary to serve functions of the agency that protect life and property as they prepare for potential landfall" of Karen.

FEMA has also re-activated the Hurricane Liaison Team, which works closely with the National Hurricane Center during storm response.

"Even though we've been blessed with a lot of storms falling apart or not even forming, it only takes one of these storms getting through to make it a really bad year for you," said Feltgen.

And though many government employees do not know when they will be paid, they will continue to work to keep us safe.