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EC starts to feel effects of shutdown

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By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The lack of a paycheck during the nearly three-week-old partial shutdown of the federal government is already beginning to have an effect in Elizabeth City.   

On Wednesday, six civil servants — all of whom cited the shutdown as the reason — sought and received food assistance from Food Bank of the Albemarle.

The food bank announced this week it will be open Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and open on extended hours on Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to help families affected by the shutdown.

“We know that many of those employed at Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City are working without being compensated, or have been furloughed as a result of the government shutdown,” Liz Reasoner, the Food Bank’s executive director said in a press release earlier this week. “This puts an immeasurable strain on household finances, as bills, debt and other responsibilities continue on even as (employees) are denied a paycheck.”

Reasoner said the Food Bank “can help ease some of that burden” by providing federal workers and contractors with food and other basic necessities until the shutdown ends.

Also helping Coast Guard families weather the shutdown is the city of Elizabeth City, which is providing them extensions on their utility bills. 

Lt. Amanda Faulkner, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard, also said that members of the public who’d like to help Coast Guard families can do so by visiting the Coast Guard’s Mutual Assistance website at www.cgmahq.org.

“Members of the public wishing to help Coast Guard members impacted by the partial government shutdown are encouraged to contact Coast Guard Mutual Assistance,” she said, in response to list of questions via email. “CGMA provides loans and other assistance to Coast Guard members and their families.”

Because the Coast Guard falls under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, its workforce is affected by the partial government shutdown. Despite the, the Coast Guard is still maintaining its key obligations.  

“The Coast Guard continues operations authorized by law that provide for national security or that protect life and property during partial government shutdowns; however, there are some impacts to our day-to-day operations,” Faulkner stated. “The Coast Guard stops or curtails mission activities that do not fall into those categories. Coast Guard uniformed personnel will continue to perform their duties during a partial government shutdown and will provide essential services, such as search and rescue, port security, law enforcement and environmental response.”

Also lending assistance to active duty Coast Guard personnel is the American Legion through the organization’s Temporary Financial Assistance program. 

“The shutdown has created a critical need of monetary assistance for our active duty United States Coast Guard veterans,” stated Evan Thompson, American Legion Department of North Carolina commander, in a news release Friday.

The program benefits children of Coast Guard families. The release recommends calling Adjutant Randy Cash at 919-832-7506 or 703-609-3238 with questions about the financial assistance program. Or email him at tcash@nclegion.org.

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