Crucial Weather Warnings, Cleanup Will Continue Despite Shutdown

Published October 01, 2013

| AccuWeather

For the eighteenth time in our nation's history, Tuesday, October 1, 2013, the government officially shutdown. Despite the shutdown, fire suppression efforts and flooding relief will continue.

Currently in Colorado, after historic flooding, many are still without homes and multiple roadways and bridges remain unnavigable. In California, the Rim Fire is still ablaze.

However, even though efforts will precede for now, further recovery and cleanup efforts could be halted dependent upon how long the shutdown persists.

What Happened?

This shutdown stems from a failure to compromise between the Republican dominated House of Representatives and the Democratic controlled Senate. The two could not agree on a bill to fund the federal government and as a result has closed its doors.

The original disagreement stemmed from the Affordable Care Act, more commonly know as Obamacare. The House passed a bill to delay the bill by one year and the Senate then rejected it. More voting took place over the weekend but an agreement was not made.

What are the Impacts?

Beginning the morning of October 1, 2013, federal agencies were divided along with their employees into essential and non-essential categories.

Those deemed essential are agencies that are imminent to "protecting life and property," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Activities that will not be suspended as a result are fire suppression efforts, emergency and natural disaster response, those protecting federal lands, buildings, waterways, etc., contracts supporting cyber security and infrastructure operations, emergency and defense preparedness to name a few.

These agencies include but are not limited to: most law enforcement, veteran hospitals, active duty military, the U.S. Postal Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), air traffic control, emergency medical care and emergency and disaster assistance.

As a result, fire containment efforts in California Rim Fire and disaster relief from the Colorado floods will continue despite the shutdown but will operate with limited funding.

While some or most of these agencies and employees will continue reporting for duty, others will be furloughed or forced on temporary unpaid leave.

Among those shutdown, includes portions or all of the Center for Disease Control, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and the Department of Commerce.

During the shutdown, citizens are advised to redirect their attention to for necessary updates. Read below for a list of weather-related agencies that have been influenced by the shutdown.

NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

As only services deemed critical in order to provide information to protect lives and properties, NOAA services have been immediately suspended until further notice.

Services halted include most research activities, assistance for grant funding recipients, non-mission essential contracts and the other various services the agency provides to other federal agencies.

However, while NOAA is no longer in operation, associated agency, the National Weather Service, or NWS will remain open. The NWS will provide information considered critical by the government including weather watches, warnings, advisories, alerts and weather safety.

FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Due to the lapse in federal funds, the agency reported that "portions of the website will not be maintained until appropriations are enacted."

Striving and responsible for supporting citizens and first responders to ensure the nation prepares for, protects against, responds to, recover and mitigate all hazards, FEMA has been in charge of the recovery from the Colorado flooding. The agency helps to provide reimbursements for generators purchased after disasters, assistance for immediate relief and more.

While the agency is partially funded by the Disaster Relief Fund, it will not be immediately impacted by the shutdown but depending on how long the shutdown lasts, the agency could need to suspend all activity in the future.

As far as relief and aid for the Colorado flooding goes, residents fear that the rebuilding process will be halted. While these fears have not been consoled, parts of FEMA including relief for the state will continue...for now.

A press release sent out Tuesday confirmed the reality of ongoing efforts in Colorado as the agency announced the opening of a disaster recovery center in Evergreen, Colo.

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency

With a total of 16,205 employees, the EPA underwent an almost complete shutdown Tuesday.

Along with the shutdown, 94 percent of the agency's employees will be furloughed according to a New York Times article.

The Labor Department's regulatory offices will close as well.

Those still required to work will be those managers working on Superfund sites, or hazardous material waste sites. The failure to maintain these sites would pose an imminent threat to human life, according to a EPA manual.

Other than the Superfund sites, the only other individuals who could be called to duty are those associated with the agency's Water Security Division and emergency response team. In the event that a water related incident that endangers human life occurs during the shutdown, the EPA will enact these individuals.

NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

With the most employees to be furloughed, 97 percent to be exact, NASA employs more than 18,000 people according to a New York Times article.

Although, those astronauts upon the International Space Station will remain at work and as a result so will a few of the agency's employees located in the Mission Control Center.

Despite these few employees, like the EPA, NASA shutdown almost entirely as of Tuesday mid-morning.

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