Work piling up for National Weather Service employees during shutdown

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Among federal workers caught up in the partial government shutdown, National Weather Service employees in Wakefield are not only working for free but cuts have caused their work to pile up. 

Friday is the 28th day of the government shutdown. Staff at the National Weather Service told 8News they are dealing with anxiety while trying to stay focused on their mission. 

The weather doesn’t stop and neither will they. 

Jeff Orrock is the meteorologist in charge at the Wakefield National Weather Service. Orrock hops on his motorcycle and rides away after work, wondering how many more paydays he’ll miss.

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“The fact that the weather is a little busy, is a little bit of a distraction, and it keeps you focused,” said Orrock. “I mean, it does keep us focused on what’s important and what do we need to do.” 
The Wakefield National Weather Service office is halfway between Richmond and Tidewater. Staff travel long distances to get to work and some are having a hard time paying for gas. 

“As we continue to skip paychecks people are trying to figure out how to make things work. Trying to get folks to carpool, adjusting hours,” Orrock explained. 

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The shutdown has stopped the National Weather Service from being able to quickly conduct routine maintenance on field equipment and pay bills. 

“It’s still going to take a while to get back to normal because there’s a lot of things that are falling behind administratively that will need to be caught up,” said Orrock. “We’re kind of getting more outside the box as far as things we’ve never really experienced before so we’re going to learn as we go.”

Orrock told 8News that Monday will be the agency’s second missed paycheck. 

Stay with WAVY.com for updates. 

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