Tough time getting details of local preparedness for possible shutdown

NOW: Tough time getting details of local preparedness for possible shutdown

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- A shutdown of the federal government is just hours away. If it happens, how will Michiana be impacted? We had trouble finding out.

“I think that we’ve been here before and it’s kind of frustrating as a citizen to watch how the government seemingly plays games with our lives,” said Rhonda Gipson-Willis, a South Bend resident.

The game to watch Friday night is on Capitol Hill. That’s where lawmakers are struggling to make a deal that would keep the government open.

If the doors close, so do national parks, zoos and monuments.

Nonessential federal workers are placed on unpaid leave in a shutdown, which could include many of Indiana’s 20,000+ government employees and Michigan’s 40,000+.

It could take longer to get a passport, a visa, approval for a federal mortgage or federal gun permit, or even veteran or unemployment benefits.

Agencies like the CDC would have to send some employees home during the height of a deadly flu outbreak.

“I have friends who have government jobs,” Gipson-Willis said. “I know people who depend upon government to show up and do their jobs. And it impacts their lives in a much more meaningful way than they ever could mine, and that’s what really infuriates me about that. It makes me want to say, ‘Just grow up and do your job. What we pay you to do.’”

ABC57’s Taylor Popielarz spent the day Friday putting in calls to or stopping by the Social Security office in South Bend, the Environmental Management office, the local IRS branch, the North Central Small Business Development Center, and the St. Joseph County VA Clinic to see how they were preparing for the potential shutdown.

By airtime on Friday evening, he only heard back from the North Central Small Business Development Center – which said a shutdown would not directly impact the center’s daily work because federal money does not come through it.

Gipson-Willis had a message for lawmakers.

“You are there to serve,” she said. “Your job is to serve people. And so, instead of serving your own interests, make sure that everything you do goes through the lens of serving your constituents.”

We also reached out to staff at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to see how they were preparing for the possible shutdown, but did not hear back by airtime.

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