WASHINGTON -- Oct. 1 was not Natalia Otero's best day on the job.
As executive director of DC Safe, a nonprofit that provides emergency services and shelter to victims of domestic violence in Washington, her organization may not seem like a potential victim of a federal government shutdown. But at the turn of the month, with Congress deadlocked, $250,000 in federal and local grants for DC Safe were effectively frozen.
That quarter of a million dollars would have paid cab fare for battered women to travel from a hospital emergency room to a shelter. It would have paid for food to families who left an abusive home. It would have paid for hotel stays when the shelters were full. It would have paid for women to get the locks changed on their doors.
Last weekend alone, DC Safe housed 19 women and 28 children, and fielded 38 calls from police officers at scenes of domestic violence. But the loss of the grants may change all that. The money would have amounted to about three months of the group's budget.
"It's creating undue stress and uncertainty," Otero said of the sudden loss of funds. "We've asked people to sponsor families."
The dependable system that Otero has built over the years is crumbling. She told The Huffington Post she may have to turn away clients. She said she can staff the nonprofit's hotline until Oct. 15, but then she will have to start thinking about operating with a smaller crew.
"We are in limbo, right," Otero said. "With our private funders, we can probably maintain until the 15th."
A week after Congress failed to agree to fund the operation of the government, the impacts of the shutdown are starting to trickle down. No longer is the story being told in numbers (workers furloughed, budgets cuts, jobs at risk). Increasingly, it's being told with people's angst, frustration and weariness.
Businesses are seeing fewer customers. Research institutions are cutting back. Court cases are being delayed. Assistance for low-income families has stopped. Entire industries have been placed on pause.
In many cases, there is real pain. As one Huffington Post reader emailed:
"I'm a federal employee working in an agency affected by the shutdown. I am an attorney and single mother of two children. I have been employed with the government since 2005. I've been able to make a comfortable life for myself and my children working as an attorney for the federal government; however, living without my income is not an option. I have to feed my children, pay a mortgage, car payments, taxes, and utility bills in order to keep us together. What if I'm unable to make my mortgage or car payments? What if I cannot afford to feed my children? I am most concerned about them and about my health. I have several chronic illnesses that require medication; what if I cannot afford my medications?"
In other cases, the effects have been more emotional than financial.
"We are still expected to report to work and fulfill our duties putting our lives on the line, leaving our loved ones daily at all hours for free it seems," one U.S. Border Patrol agent told The Huffington Post. "Morale at my station is at an all time low and it seems that no one in DC could care less."
Sometimes, the shutdown is forcing the government to gamble on luck. Dan Sobien, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, told The Huffington Post he worries emergency preparations are being shortchanged. He pointed to preparations for the storm that had been anticipated to become Hurricane Karen, now a degenerated tropical depression.
"When a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching land, we would request extra upper-air balloon launches. We do them twice a day and typically they would ask for them four times a day, which gives you better information and a sampling of the atmosphere," Sobien explained. "In the case of Karen, that didn't happen. When we asked for the additional balloon launches, the hurricane centers said we didn't need them. ... My guess is there was some sort of budgetary reason that they were not admitting too."
Karen weakened over the weekend in the Gulf of Mexico without making landfall. But better information could have been useful.
"The initial forecast had a Category 1 hurricane hitting somewhere near Mobile, Ala." said Sobien. "What actually happened was the storm dissipated in the middle of the Gulf and what was left of it hit my house in Sarasota, Fla. It was off by a lot. It was not an unreasonable amount. But I would have thought the extra data might have been helpful. Certainly a lot of people along the northern Gulf Coast took precautions that they might not have had to take, and perhaps hotel reservations were canceled and people got worried when they didn't have to."
The deployment of fewer weather balloons to monitor Karen is one of many consequences of the shutdown now being felt across the country. Below are 50 others that The Huffington Post found in a survey of local newspapers.
- Border patrol training has been suspended in New Mexico. (LINK)
Businesses, including a hot dog store in Columbus, Ohio, can't get their government-backed Small Business Administration loans. (LINK) Congress' failure to consider a farm bill because of the shutdown is hurting dairy farmers. (LINK and LINK) Sugar daddy websites, focusing on relationships that feature older men who spend lavishly on women, are witnessing a spike in interest, which some website operators attribute to young women losing government benefits. (LINK) Real estate agents in Texas are seeing less business. (LINK) Veterans, including 100 Missouri State University students, will not receive federal tuition assistance. (LINK) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facilities -- in states that include Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin -- are closed to the public. (LINK) Timber contracts for national parkland have been suspended and sales are slowing. (LINK and LINK) A town in Montana dependent on seasonal tourism has become a "ghost town." (LINK) A dinosaurs fossil exhibit museum delivery to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has been delayed. (LINK) Private tour companies near Yellowstone National Park have seen a dramatic drop in customers. (LINK) An annual roundup of wild ponies on the Eastern Shore of Virginia has been canceled. (LINK) Private hotels on government property are struggling with the shutdown and the absence of customers. (LINK and LINK) The director of a project to study stink bugs was furloughed, just as the pests are beginning to find winter hiding places inside homes. (LINK) Arizona stopped payments to 5,200 families eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. (LINK) Private businesses at Grand Canyon are suffering. (LINK and LINK) A legal challenge to Texas' voter ID law has been delayed at the request of the Department of Justice. (LINK) Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are growing frightened. "The blind spots are getting bigger every day as this goes on," said CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds in Atlanta. (LINK) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission court cases have been delayed in Maine. (LINK) The citrus forecast, which influences price negotiations between Florida growers and juice processors, was cancelled. (LINK) NASA websites have been pulled down. (LINK) King crab fishing boats have to stay docked without government approval of permits and quotas, costing Alaska fisherman potentially "hundreds of thousands of dollars." (LINK) Everglades restoration project funding has been jeopardized. (LINK) Tours at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park in Kentucky have been canceled. (LINK) Some Native Americans are not receiving scholarships. (LINK) Other Native American communities are seeing nutrition programs, foster care payments, financial assistance for the poor and anti-elder-abuse programs cut. (LINK) Oregon State University is losing $600,000 a day in federal research money. (LINK) Dog park volunteers are being forced to stay at home in Oregon. (LINK) Medicare program audit has been delayed. (LINK) Farm and livestock producers are lacking basic information to make business decisions. (LINK) Two New Hampshire families were stuck in Arizona parking lot after planning 20-day rafting trip on the Colorado River. (LINK) Lockheed Martin announced it was furloughing 3,000 workers in Colorado. (LINK) The Maverick Mountain Bike Championship canceled two of its three races in Colorado. (LINK) The absence of a farm bill has hit cotton farming in Georgia. (LINK) Nursery plants in Virginia may die waiting to be given to defense installations. (LINK) Federal investigators can't inspect a fatal Metro accident in Washington, D.C. (LINK) The Department of Justice is seeking a delay in a National Security Agency case. (LINK) Washington, D.C.'s, food trucks have lost a tremendous amount of business. (LINK) United Technologies Corp. says it may furlough more than 5,000 workers in Nevada. (LINK) Sea turtle monitoring in Florida has been hampered. (LINK) Children in Tennessee couldn't ride the bus to school. "Since the Great Smoky Mountains are closed, along with a number of roads overseen by rangers, a some parents had to find another way to get their children to class. During the government shutdown, Bus #49 could not make its route." (LINK) Habitat for Humanity has been dealt a funding cut. (LINK) A free health care clinic in Alabama can't take on new patients. "Our hands are tied because we can’t help those patients unless we get that," said Cullman’s Good Samaritan Clinic Executive Director Kelly Lindsey. "We also work with pharmaceutical companies to get people free medicine, but they won’t do that unless we have that paperwork. It’s impacting us quite a bit now." (LINK) A boy was denied blood test until Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) stepped in to help. (LINK) Unemployment claims skyrocketed 500 percent in Utah. (LINK) Build America Bond rebates were not being paid. (LINK) A death penalty appeal in North Dakota was delayed. (LINK) Pig virus monitoring was stopped. (LINK) A wedding was displaced in Tennessee because it was in a national park. (LINK) Canopy tours in Great Smoky Mountain National Park saw "a dramatic decrease in the number of people walking through their doors." (LINK)
The Stakes Have Never Been Higher