A summary of local impacts of the federal government shutdown.
WILMINGTON — Much of the federal government has been shut down since Dec. 22. For many residents of Southeastern North Carolina, however, the effects are often hard to spot.
Large “BUILDING CLOSED” signs are taped on the doors of the Alton Lennon Federal Building in downtown Wilmington, and federal courts are not in session.
Moores Creek National Battlefield in Currie is shut down, and a voicemail recording says no calls will be returned until furloughed rangers are back on the job.
“Essential” federal personnel remain on the job, though.
The National Weather Service forecast office at the Wilmington International Airport is still posting updates and data and communicating on social media. Staffers have worked through shutdowns before.
“We are working, same as last year,” said Steve Pfaff, a warning coordinator with the Wilmington office.
Over at the airport terminal, blue-shirted officers with the Transportation Security Administration remain on the job, and flights are departing promptly, according to Deputy Director Gary Broughton.
CNN and other news organizations had reported that TSA workers, who are not being paid during the shutdown, have been calling in sick in large numbers. Broughton, however, said the number of TSA sick calls in Wilmington had actually dropped since the shutdown began, and no slowdowns have been detected.
Coast Guardsmen are still answering the phones at the Wrightsville Beach station.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup, with the public affairs office of the Coast Guard’s 5th District, said all personnel are continuing to perform their duties and are responding to search and rescue calls, law enforcement and national security issues and environmental threats. Some non-essential Coast Guard duties, however, such as recreational boarding, safety checks and routine maintenance on aids to navigation, have been suspended until the shutdown is over.
The shutdown will reach a critical point on Friday, when both furloughed and “essential” federal workers will miss their first paycheck. Steve Pfaff of the weather service is convinced, though, that workers will be reimbursed once the shutdown concludes.
“It happened the last 12 times” the government shut down, Pfaff said, “so we hope it will be the same this time.”
Reporter Ben Steelman can be reached at 910-616-1788 or [email protected]