Empty Shelves, Cancer Meds, Widow's Grief: Real Impact of the Shutdown

Oct 3, 2013 12:12 PM

On the third day of a government shutdown with no end in sight, families, government employees and private citizens across the country were feeling the effects of the battle in Washington. Many voiced their frustrations on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the social media tag #DearCongress.

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With no clear indication of when lawmakers on Capitol Hill will pass a bill to fund the government, here's how some Americans have already been hit:

San Diego military families
Families that rely on military commissaries, or base shops, to keep living costs down will have to shop elsewhere after the stores shut down Wednesday. The increase in expenses could be steep for furloughed personnel on bases in cities like San Diego, where a trip to the grocery store can be pricey.

“We’re very lucky that we do have access to the commissary, especially in a city like San Diego where the cost of living is expensive,” said Catie Griffith, whose husband’s Navy pay will be hard hit by the higher shopping bills, according to NBC San Diego. And cash was already tight after Griffith left her job as a teacher to take care of the couple’s two children.

“The line was wrapping around the entire store” before the commissary shut down, Griffith told NBC San Diego.

The Defense Commissary Agency, which manages the commissaries on military bases at home and abroad, says on its website that military families save more than 30 percent on average at the stores. The site was not being updated while the shutdown went on, but the agency said in a statement online that foreign commissaries would remain open.

“We are acutely aware of the hardships placed on all our customers if we cannot deliver their commissary benefit,” agency director Joseph H. Jeu said in the statement. “However, because of their geographic location, our service members and their families overseas have a more critical dependence on commissaries, and we are prepared to continue that support.”

A fallen New Mexico firefighter’s wife
Heidi Adams, whose firefighter husband was found dead in September, delivered the couple’s daughter just weeks ago – and is now fighting to get her husband’s benefits amid the ongoing shutdown, NBC News’ affiliate KOB reported from New Mexico.

The body of U.S. Forest Service firefighter Token Adams was found in early September, the victim of an apparent ATV crash after he rode out to investigate a wildfire in the Jemez Mountains a week earlier. Heidi Adams has said she was all set to start receiving his federal benefits for herself and her children — until her meeting scheduled for Wednesday was canceled. For now, she’s getting by on donations, she told KOB.

“That’s what I’m living off of,” Adams, who is trying to move back to family in Maine, told the station. She said she’s been told it might take as long as four weeks before the benefits kick in.

“You know, you have families who are both on government pay, and you think up to four weeks without a paycheck, what’s that going to do for their families?” Adams said according to KOB. “I feel for them. It’s going to be really tough.”

The search for a missing Idaho hiker
Searchers braved rough terrain on Wednesday at Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument after fears that the shutdown would bring a halt to their hunt for signs of hiker Dr. Jo Elliott-Blakeslee, who set out on Sept. 19. Her partner was found dead a week later, likely of dehydration and hypothermia, officials have said.

“After last weekend’s big effort to locate Dr. Jo, we had intended to scale back search operations given the environmental conditions we have been experiencing,” Park Superintendent Dan Buckley said in a release on Wednesday. “The probability of finding her alive has diminished, but we are committed to continuing the search until we find Dr. Jo and bring closure to her family, friends and all those who have been involved in this search.”

Elliott-Blakeslee’s family issued a desperate appeal for volunteers Tuesday, local paper the Idaho Statesman reported.

Ten of the park's 16 employees set to be furloughed were allowed to stay on as “excepted” in order to continue the hunt, the park said in a release Wednesday.

The employees “working the search are experienced rangers, in top physical condition,” park spokesman Ted Stout said in the release. “The terrain in the park can be brutal; it, along with the adverse weather conditions we have been experiencing, it has has already taken a toll on searchers and search dogs who have been working to locate our missing subject.”

Read More at http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/03/20788483-its-going-to-be-really-tough-tales-from-the-shutdown?lite


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