Dick Kaverman and Marcia Willinger had hoped to get a little relaxation in by camping at the Flanners Beach Campground.
Instead, they were told Tuesday morning they would have to pack up and leave the Croatan National Forest site because of the federal government shutdown.
“I’m getting ready to write my congresswoman,” Kaverman said as the pair finished breakfast heated on a camp stove and prepared to take down their tent at the Neuse Recreation Area on the banks of the Neuse River.
They were among about a half dozen camping families told they would have to leave because Congress could not agree on a continuing resolution to fund the government on Monday. The result was a partial shutdown of non-essential government functions.
Kaverman and Willinger had planned to visit the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Wright Brothers National Memorial on their way back to their home in Toledo, Ohio, but now they were unsure what they would do with the closure of federal parks.
“It’s a sad story,” Kaverman said. “Now the government is putting a little squeeze on our plans.”
They expressed dissatisfaction in the performance of Congress in not being able to make a deal.
“We’re both of the opinion that none of them should be paid until they figure it out,” Willinger said.
“They need to stop using ‘honorable’ in their titles anymore because they’re not,” Kaverman said. “This isn’t OK. You guys need to get it together. Quit the polarization and procrastination dance and learn the stuff they should have learned in kindergarten.”
The couple said the legislators are simply not doing their jobs.
“If they were working in private industry, they would all be fired for non-performance,” Kaverman said.
“Last summer, we went to eight parks out west. This is what we do. Their pettiness and shortsightedness is now making our trip more stressful than it needs to be.”
Camper Tana Bonk, from North Carolina, said that she and a friend had planned to stay in the Croatan another night but were asked to leave.
“I’ve got to find a place,” Bonk said. “We’ve got a couple of dogs with us and a kitty.”
Stevin Westcott, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman, said the Croatan National Forest would remain closed through the government shutdown. He said some employees worked Tuesday simply to continue the process of shutting down operations.
Even if campers can’t use the national campgrounds, they’ll still be able to get a weather forecast. The 20 employees at the National Weather Service Office in Newport will be on duty, said Rich Bandy, meteorologist in charge at the office.
“We’re open,” he said. “Everyone here at the office is excepted, which means we’re working. We’re not going to do everything we would normally be doing, but we’ll be protecting life and property.”
Fleet Readiness Center East, which employs nearly 3,300 civilians in the repair and restoration of aircraft at Cherry Point, will also still be operating, according to officials.
“FRC East is operating as usual. There are no plans to furlough any employees,” said Dave Marriott, facility spokesman. “FRC East is a Working Capital Fund command. Our funding relies on revenue from our customers. Operations here will continue until all cash reserves are exhausted.”
Other functions at Cherry Point will be affected, according to Master Sgt. J.L. Wright, from the Joint Public Affairs Office at the base. He said only operations and activities essential to safety, protection of human life and protection of national security are authorized at the base.
That was evidenced by the flight of aircraft, including an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, in the skies over Havelock on Tuesday.
Still, the base commissary is scheduled to close Wednesday, and other closures include the Teen/Tween Center, school liaison office, and Marine Corps Community Services coordinators. Other various counseling, behavioral health and family services provided by the base will be closed as well.
Wright said that other departments and programs could see reductions in staff during the closure. He did not indicate how many Cherry Point workers were impacted by the shutdown and were not required to show up for work on Tuesday.
Despite the shutdown, members of the military will be paid.
A complete list of Cherry Point closures is available online at www.cherrypoint.marines.mil and at the Marine Corps Community Services website at http://mccscherrypoint.com.