Obama thanks FEMA for free work

An eagle’s nest was observed in Alabama, N.Y. Wildlife rehabilitators wonder what will happen to federally protected birds.
David Duprey/Associated Press
An eagle’s nest was observed in Alabama, N.Y. Wildlife rehabilitators wonder what will happen to federally protected birds.

WASHINGTON — President Obama made an unannounced visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington to thank workers for doing their jobs under ‘‘less than optimal circumstances’’ during the government shutdown.

In this case, less than optimal circumstances means working without pay.

Some furloughed employees at the agency were recalled last week and worked for free to help prepare for Tropical Storm Karen.


Under a House-passed bill, they will receive back pay when the impasse is over.

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The president said FEMA employees remain ready to respond when needed, but their jobs have been “made more difficult.”

He also noted that the shutdown will probably end up costing taxpayers more money, because of the work backlog.

Funding for FEMA was among the series of piecemeal spending bills passed by the House last week.

The White House has threatened to veto the measures, saying the government should not be reopened one agency at a time.

Associated Press

Federally protected bird’s remains also put on hold


The government’s work is piling up in offices across the country, and it’s not just paperwork.

It’s old tires and red Solo cups littering a stretch of river in Nebraska, and the charred wreckage of a plane in California, preserved in case safety investigators return.

And it’s the dead eagle in Wendi Pencille’s freezer.

Pencille tends to injured birds in her upstate New York home.

When a bald eagle dies, she sends the federally protected remains to a special eagle repository near Denver that ships feathers and carcasses to Indian tribes for their sacred ceremonies.


But the federal bird shippers are on furlough while much of the US government, like her fallen eagle, is on ice.

“I couldn’t send it, because it would just rot in a mailbox somewhere,” said Pencille.

So the volunteer wildlife rehabilitator put the 9-pound bird in the freezer alongside food for the owls, hawks, and two live eagles recovering at her Medina home.

“I'd like to get it out of there,” Pencille said. “We definitely need the space.”

Associated Press

Government reports missing on commerce, public health

Without federal workers, government reports are not being issued, and many of them are an important part of commerce and public health.

The Labor Department delayed its monthly count of how many people are looking for work, which was due Friday and highly anticipated by stock traders.

The Agriculture Department stopped cranking out tallies of livestock auctions and crop yields, which are vital numbers to farmers and buyers.

The Centers for Disease Control isn’t tracking the nation’s flu cases, just as the season is getting started.

Other diseases are not monitored, too, such as microbes that could signal a multistate outbreak of food poisoning.

The staff of 80 CDC workers who normally analyze foodborne pathogens sent by states has been furloughed down to two.

They are concentrating on looking for those that post the most danger, such as possible salmonella, E. coli, or listeria outbreaks.

Other germs, including shigella and campylobacter, go ignored for now.

‘‘The blind spots are getting bigger every day as this goes on,’’ said CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds in Atlanta.

Associated Press

Rangers fine trespassers
at Acadia National Park

Rangers at Acadia National Park at Mount Desert Island, Maine, are issuing citations to trespassers while the park is closed because of the federal shutdown.

The rangers issued seven citations over the weekend — four to people riding mopeds, two riding motorcycles, and one group that had been camping.

The fine is $75.

Chief park ranger Stewart West said the National Park Service normally has a staff of 206 people at the park but is down to 15 workers focused on security.

All park roads are closed to traffic, along with hiking trails and carriage roads, and West said there have been reports of people vandalizing barricades and signs.

The park typically gets about 600,000 visitors in September and October, peak foliage season.

Associated Press