100+ NOAA workers furloughed due to shutdown

Published On: Oct 01 2013 02:23:00 PM HST

More than 100 people from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were furloughed due to the federal government shutdown Tuesday.

There were plenty of goodbyes as one by one NOAA employees carried their boxes and belongings and packed up.  Some even took home their plants, not knowing when they'll return.

"The fact the entire civilian branches of the government is shutting down (because) of a dysfunctional Congress is disappointing to say the least," said NOAA research biologist Michael Parke.

The director of the NOAA Fisheries Science Center told all employees they had four hours to shut down research, set up their voice mails and leave.

"Out of the 125 federal employees, one person has one hour a day.  The rest of us have zero hours per day, so we are basically 99 percent shut down as of noon time," said Sam Pooley of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.

The one NOAA employee will manage the monk seal and sea turtle hotline.  That means if there is an animal hooked, you can expect a much slower response.

What researchers say are vital studies on Hawaii's coral reef, endangered species and marine life came to a halt on Tuesday.

"We've shut down one research cruise already.  We'll probably shut down another one," said Pooley.  "People have been called back from travel.  That kind of thing."

Most of the employees were notified Friday about the looming government shutdown.  But, the early alert didn't make walking off the job any easier.

Signs of a shutdown

Click here to see other places across the U.S. that were shut down.

"I feel really crappy about this," said Pooley.  "We are just here to execute the mission of NOAA.  We do the best that we can.  I feel mostly bad for our staff who won't be paid."

KITV4 News talked with dozens of employees, most of whom didn't want to go on camera.  They say they are trying to take the shutdown in stride.  In fact, one person said he had a sense of humor.  He was going to the unemployment office after he got off of work.

The National Weather Service, which is under NOAA, will remain open to provide weather forecasts and warnings.


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