Visitors shut out of one of state's most popular sites Thursday

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Oct 17 2013 06:39:00 PM HST

The USS Arizona Memorial was still closed the day after the government shutdown ended as preparations were made to reopen the site.

HONOLULU -

Staff at the Arizona Memorial said they found out late Wednesday they were back in business and have been scrambling since the break of dawn to get ready.

Click here to see Lara Yamada's report.

"It's not just like flipping a switch. There's a lot of work involved," said Eileen Martinez, Chief of Interpretation for the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor.

With 35 staffers furloughed for nearly three weeks, workers spent all day cleaning-up, clearing grounds, getting systems up and running, and re-stocking shelves.

"There's definitely a process here. It took over a week to shut this place down," said Martinez.

"It's a case of so close, and yet so far," said Keryn Ballingball, who was on her last day in Hawaii from Australia.

Unable to change her flight, she said she'd miss the thing she wanted to see the most.

And, she said she's upset by the partial federal government shutdown, that that to her, didn't make sense.

"I hope it has achieved something, but as an outsider I'm not quite sure what that might be, except a lot of disappointment for a lot of visitors," said Ballingball.

"We put it off until the very last minute with our voucher for Thursday," said Stacey Maguire. She and her husband Mark are also on the last day of their vacation.

Both of their fathers were in the Navy, with Mark's father fighting in World War II.

"I thought because of the sacrifice these guys made this is something you have to see," said Mark Maguire.

Just a couple days into the shutdown staff had to tarp over signs at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, because visitors were getting confused and coming in anyway.

First thing Friday morning, they'll pull these off and get ready for business.
The center opens at 7 a.m. and tours for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial begin at 8 a.m.

"It's been a challenge for all of us," said Martinez.

She worries even more about their partners, such as The Pacific Historic Parks, which runs the audio tours and the bookstore, or the more than 100 tour businesses suffering losses that will never be recovered, as they prepare to reopen, at least for a while.

"We'll just hope for the best and prepare for the worst," she said.

The Oahu Veterans Center staff said they were only days away from launching a huge protest at the state capitol.

The next round of disability checks go out Nov. 1, so, close call, but center staff said payments could still be delayed.

(img3)USS Arizona Memorial closed during shutdown other historic sites remain open

PHOTOS: Confusion at the USS Arizona Memorial

Click here to see photos from the first day of the shutdown at the USS Arizona Memorial.

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