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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Five ways the government shutdown is affecting metro Atlanta this week

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  • JAMES GATHANY/CDC
The end of the U.S. government shutdown doesn't appear to be in sight. As the political dispute continues for a second week, its impact is being felt throughout metro Atlanta.

That's fueled some protesters to take a stand. And it's forced some Georgia congressmen to dig deeper into their parties' trenches as the partisan battle continues.

The shutdown's effects are rippling throughout the city and state. And they'll continue to do so as the shutdown lingers. Last week, CL recapped some of the shutdown's early impacts in metro Atlanta and Georgia. Here are five other ways that the metro region has been affected.

1. Head Start and Early Head Start programs almost closed

The shutdown almost forced Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms across the country to close their doors. That would've meant more than 2,800 kids enrolled in 140 programs in 20 Georgia counties would stay home from school until further notice. But thanks to a $10 million donation from Texas philanthropists Laura and John Arnold, the National Head Start Association was able to keep its the classrooms open to at-risk children this week.

2. More people have visited Georgia state parks

State parks are reporting more visitors since the government shutdown began. According to Georgia Public Broadcasting, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park and Forest Services have closed their campgrounds across the state. Meanwhile, campers have reportedly headed over to state-operated parks, including Red Top Mountain State Park and Crooked River State Park.

"Definitely we're seeing people come to stay at Georgia State Parks if they're not able to stay at some of the Corps of Engineers campgrounds or some of the federal campgrounds," State Parks spokeswoman Kim Hatcher told GPB. "So, definitely there's been a little bit of an increase in visitation."

3. Georgia's Meals on Wheels program could soon take a hit

Georgia's Meals on Wheels program, which helps feed thousands of poor senior citizens throughout Georgia, is expected to run out of federal cash later this week. The shutdown has frozen the $2 billion federal program that the Georgia Department of Human Services depends upon to keep feeding much of the state's low-income elderly population.

"Like many non-profits we're doing everything we can, fundraising, we're doing everything to raise money, we do catering," Senior Connections CEO Debra Furtado, who runs the nonprofit's facility in Chamblee, told WSB-TV.

The TV station also reports the state is helping fund the program, but only because there's a requirement to give elderly residents who rely upon the service a 30-day notice when food services stop. Those letters could start being sent out sometime next week.

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recalls some employees

Last week, 8,754 out of 13,000 CDC employees were furloughed because of the government shutdown, which prompted Director Tom Frieden to tweet that the country was "less safe." 11 Alive reports that some employees today headed back to the office after salmonella cases were recently reported in 18 states.

5. Atlanta's Veterans Affairs benefits office remains closed, but its medical center and clinic will stay open

The Department of Veterans Affairs has furloughed nearly 7,000 employees in the wake of the government shutdown. That's forced the Atlanta-area VA benefits center to shutter its doors until further notice, but hasn't stopped veterans from receiving their entitled benefits (though some are worried that could be a problem if the shutdown continues). All VA medical centers and clinics will remain open and continue offering medical treatment throughout the shutdown.

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