Gov’t shutdown: 3 workers maintaining Charleston area national parks

Published: Oct. 10, 2013 at 3:30 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Nine days in, the government shutdown is being felt right here in the Charleston area.

Could you imagine being one of three people doing a job required for nearly 30?

Workers at our local national parks like Fort Sumter have been dealing with that issue.

The forts are locked; entrance ways blocked off and signs posted everywhere.

Try calling Fort Moultrie and you'll most likely get a message saying, "Because of the federal government shutdown all National Park Service sites in the Charleston area are closed until further notice."

Staff members are ready get back to normal, but more than a week into the shutdown, only three of them at a time have been allowed to come to work.

Chief of Visitor Services, Dawn Davis said, "We can't maintain it, there's trash cans, there's a picnic area in here and we don't have staff to keep facilities open at this point."

They're lacking the other 27 workers who are usually on the job. Those people have been furloughed and can't come back until the shutdown is over.

Davis said, "One word, frustrating."

Davis is one of the three working employees rotating between the sites. She has 23 years under her belt and says even for her, it's been hard trying to maintain two Fort Sumter facilities, Fort Moultrie and the Charles Pinckney Historic Site.

"We worry about missing something. There could be any kind of damage; someone coming into the parks that should not come into the parks because weren't not there," said Davis.

The flags aren't raised at any of the sites. No mail gets dropped off and there's no cleaning service to maintain the areas.

Davis said, "Not getting done, we're picking up after ourselves as we are doing things."

Last October the sites had about 1,000 visitors a day. Davis says she's ready for the locks to open and the crowds to come back.

"Honestly what I'd prefer doing is actually having the fort open and talking to visitors and doing what we normally would do is sharing the history with the public," said Davis.

Local law agencies are keeping an eye on the sites and are ready to help if they are needed.

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