Government shutdown’s impact on metro Atlanta lingers

While Congress and President Donald Trump officially ended the partial government shutdown on Friday evening, things aren't quite back to normal yet.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park’s website, which has not been updated during the shutdown, doesn’t provide a date for when the site will be fully accessible to visitors.

The national park appeared to remain in “shutdown” mode Saturday with the main parking lot closed to traffic. Other parking lots were open and lots of folks were out hiking and such.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta reopened last weekend thanks to a grant from Delta Air Lines aimed at keeping the site open through Super Bowl weekend.

At the airport, where Transportation Security Administration workers were among those working without pay during the shutdown, no major problems were being reported as Hartsfield-Jackson International gears up for the influx of Super Bowl visitors.

Even with some furloughed federal workers aiming to return to jobs as soon as Monday, the legacy of the longest government shutdown likely will continue to be felt.

Kristen Blankenship, a Senoia stay-at-home mom of 7-year-old twin boys and a 3-year-old girl, is glad the shutdown has ended, but it’s forever changed how her family will budget.

“We’re not doing a vacation this year,” she said.

Her husband, a U.S. Air Force veteran who now works as an air traffic controller, has been working without pay during the impasse.

“We rely on my husband’s income. When you go from one income to zero income, it really hurts,” Blankenship said. “We would have been OK for a very short period of time. I know there are a lot of people who are in a much worse situation and for them missing one paycheck is far more detrimental.”

Usually, this is the time of year her sons sign up for spring baseball, her daughter gets ready for ballet lessons and Blankenship starts planning the family beach vacation. But with the deal that was reached, things could grind to a halt in three weeks after the temporary reprieve — and so the Blankenships’ possible trip to Panama City is out altogether.

“This has opened our eyes to how important it is to have a fully funded emergency fund, cash you can put your hands on,” Blankenship said. “If you have no savings account and you are living paycheck to paycheck, that is sort of embarrassing to tell people.”

She plans to reach out to her congressional representative to make sure he’s mindful of what impact the federal shutdown has had on families like hers.

“It’s frustrating. It’s infuriating for political banter to hold a hardworking man and his wife hostage,” she said. “He’s an air traffic controller. That’s a high-stress job even on a good day. He definitely was feeling the pinch of, not only is my job stressful, how am I going to take care of my family?”