ROCKLAND (WGME) – The partial government shutdown is expected to take its toll on some federal employees this week — and next, which is when they are supposed to get their next paychecks.
There are 1,100 members of the U.S. Coast Guard in northern New England, including hundreds in the state of Maine. And all of them are in danger of not being paid next week due to the partial government shutdown.
But communities, like Rockland, are stepping up to help.
As the wife of a Coast Guardsman stationed in Rockland, Kristin Herrold has a lot on her mind. This mother of three has no idea when her husband will get his next paycheck and she is not alone.
“Making sure rent gets paid. Electricity. It’s the wintertime. So we got to think about fuel and propane,” she said. “Just making sure we have food on the table and houses are warm and that’s mainly what we’re thinking about.”
Officials in the city of Rockland said that men and women in the Coast Guard can apply for general assistance for help with rent and utilities. The city also has a separate fund for home heating assistance.
“Yeah, we’re willing to do anything to help out. The community has come together. They’d like to offer discounts to the Coast Guard members,” City Manager Tom Lutrell said.
Several local merchants are offering free meals and discounts to Coast Guard families but the servicemen and women may not be able to accept them.
“They’re federal employees. They’re not eligible to receive gratuity in the form of good will from businesses,” said Gordon Page, executive director of Rockland Main Street.
Rockland residents think those serving the country deserve better.
“I mean, they’re out there every day. Doesn’t matter what the weather is,” said resident Chris Farthing said.
“You work, you should get paid for doing a job. I mean, that’s the way it works,” Farthing said. “Yes, it does bother me. It bothers a lot of people. But in the end, we have to do what’s right.”
Kristin Herrold has a full time job, which will help if the shutdown lingers.
The Coast Guard is advising officers and enlisted men and women to do what they can to make extra money.
“We just hope for the best and just continue to pray that everything will continue to go smoothly. And hopefully that everybody will come to a compromise.”
Less than a week remains to come up with a solution but as of Friday, neither the president nor House Democrats seem willing to budge