Federal Government Reopens, Area Getting Back to Normal

Federal Government Reopens, Area Getting Back to Normal

Returning to work.

Federal workers returned to work Monday with the “temporary” end to the partial government shutdown, ending 37 days of no work, no pay for thousands of Montgomery County residents.

In announcing the end of the shutdown, President Donald Trump gave Congress three weeks to present him with a budget he agreed with — one that included the money he wanted for a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.

While politicians held out, residents suffered, not knowing when they would get back to work, when they would get pay checks, when life would return to normal.

It’s back. Traffic reports Monday morning told of slowdowns, backups and accident delays. Weather reports warned of snow and possible slick roads to come. Normal.

But there was good news, too. Good news of residents reaching out to help each other, of food distribution and hot meals served.

Potomac Pizza offered 99 cent pizzas to out of work residents on Friday.

Manager Jeffrey Martinez said the offer was for furloughed workers with Federal ID. He said several people took advantage of the offer.

“I can’t give you a number off the top of my head,” he said. “We had a good amount of people.”

Martinez said he doesn’t know if the pizza offer will be good if the government shuts down again. But, he said, notice of future deals will go out via email.

Montgomery County posted lists of resources on its website. Resources that included food, energy and cash assistance programs along with information on the Emergency Eviction Prevention Program and access to the county’s Crisis Center.

Finally, too, the gates to Great Falls park are open again.

Several residents were there Monday, taking advantage of the cold but sunny day and the renewed ability to walk out to the overlook and view the falls.

One couple from Bethesda, who did not want to give their names, said they often walk at the park and were glad it was open again.

While the park was closed, they said, they parked near Angler’s Inn and walked on the towpath there.

The tow path was open throughout the shutdown said Catherine Bragaw, chief of Interpretation, Education and Volunteers at the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park. But there was no personnel or services during that time.

“We’re all ecstatic about being back at work,” Bragaw said. “The whole canal is open.”

She said that on Monday, the first day staff was back at work, they were doing assessments of the park. That included checking for trees down, condition of the toilets, checking for vandalism and picking up trash, she said.

She could not give an idea of the condition of the park, she said.

“That hasn’t been completed,” she said.