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Government Shutdown Strains National Guard's Preparation For Tropical Storm Karen

The Florida National Guard is feeling the effects of the government shutdown sooner rather than later.

Lt. Col. James Evans said the shutdown specifically affects the Florida Guard in regard to preparation for Tropical Storm Karen, which is set to hit the panhandle, and Drill Status Guardsman monthly training that was supposed to occur at Camp Blanding this weekend.

The National Guard was forced to furlough more than half of its 2,000 employees, significantly affecting day-to-day operations.

"Camp Blanding is really on a skeleton crew — just essential people for safety and security and those types of activities are happening," Evans said. "All training activities, except for the essential ones for people that are about to deploy, have been canceled."

The government shutdown will also affect the more than 150 civilian state employees who are funded through Federal Cooperative Agreements or federal grants. Without the appropriation of federal grants, there is no money to pay those state workers.

Evans said that while employees are having to chip in to make up for the labor loss, the Florida National Guard is prepared to respond to any state or local emergency.

Ebony is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.