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October 16, 2013

Colorado Town Feels Combined Pain of Floods and Shutdown

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The effects of the government shutdown may most obviously be seen in Washington, D.C., but Americans around the country are suffering from the closure of national parks and furloughed federal workers.

The town of Estes Park, Colo., which recently suffered major damage to roads and buildings during last month’s flooding, says that the shutdown has made their recovery even harder. The town’s economy depends on tourism at nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, and the closure has put major pressure on businesses just recovering from the storms.

“It’s a combination of the flood, the roads being closed and then the park being closed,” said town administrator Frank Lancaster. “It’s tough. It’s kind of a trifecta of disasters here.”

One thing that hasn’t been affected by the shutdown is emergency disaster aid from federal agencies. FEMA workers are still on the ground, and Governor John Hickenlooper promised to use state money to fund the Colorado National Guardsmen who were furloughed. The Guardsmen are working with the state’s Department of Transportation to repair the numerous roads and highways that were damaged in the flood.

“But when it comes down to the ongoing recovery and getting back on our feet, the folks that we need to help aren’t working. They have been furloughed,” said Lancaster.


Warm up questions
  1. What does it mean to be furloughed from work?
  2. What is a government shutdown? For an excellent kid-targeted video resource on the government shutdown from Time Magazine click here.
  3. Why has the government shut down this time specifically?
  4. How could it be fixed and by whom?
Discussion questions
  1. People who are not deemed “essential” have had to stay home from work. How do you think it is determined who is “essential” and who is not? Why do you think FEMA workers are considered “essential” but not National Guardsmen?
  2. Is the shutdown hurting people where you live? If so, how?
  3. Can you think of other people across the country that may be suffering because of the shutdown? Who are they and why are they suffering?
  4. Do you think the shutdown might negatively affect the economy? Why or why not?
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