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Federal government shutdown hits North Coast

  • Employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from left, Natalie Manning, Maura Moody, Natalie Badrei and Joe Pecharich leave the Santa Rosa federal building, Tuesday Oct. 1, 2013, with personal belongings as the partial government shutdown affects their job. (KENT PORTER/ PD)

Natalie Manning packed up some paperwork from her office in downtown Santa Rosa and headed home Tuesday morning not sure when she would be able to work again or, more importantly, when her next paycheck would arrive.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration program manager is one of hundreds of North Coast federal employees who stopped work Tuesday as a result of the government shutdown that furloughed some 800,000 federal workers nationwide.

As Washington lawmakers continued to bicker over a spending bill past the Tuesday deadline to avoid a shutdown, employees deemed non-essential were given until noon to clean up their offices and leave outgoing voice and email messages.

U.S. Government Shutdown

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At the federal building in Santa Rosa, which houses about 150 government workers, employees in casual attire cleaned out refrigerators and packed potted plants to take home. About a third of those workers, who are with NOAA, one of the agencies designated to shut down, received emails Monday saying they are legally barred from working and will not get paid during the furlough.

The Santa Rosa office is a hub for NOAA's fisheries restoration efforts, Endangered Species Act enforcement and oil spill clean-up programs.

“We committed our lives to service so that future generations can enjoy our fisheries and our resources,” Manning said. “It's not like we have executive pay positions. We live paycheck to paycheck.”

Many of the North Coast's 2,030 federal workers were ordered to stay home. The Social Security field office in Santa Rosa was open but with limited services.

IRS offices in Santa Rosa were locked and dark with a sign on the door that read: “In the event of a government shutdown, this office will be closed. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

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