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Shutdown deal brings much-needed relief for federal employees in the metro

Posted at 10:40 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 23:40:03-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After weeks filled with stress and frustration, families of furloughed federal workers in the metro breathed a sigh of relief on Friday following a short-term deal to end the government shutdown.

The shutdown lasted 35 days in total and meant weeks without a paycheck for thousands of federal workers in the region.

In Shawnee, Mary Alice Kelly’s husband was forced to stay at home beginning on Dec. 22.

On Friday, she told 41 Action News that she finally felt some ease.

“I just feel like I can take a deep breath,” she said. “It’s been like a huge cloud. It seems like the sun is kind of poking through.”

For the last several weeks, the shutdown led to plenty of worry inside Kelly’s home.

Family dinners were often quiet at the table while they wondered what could lie ahead.

Despite the stress of the situation, others stepped up to help.

“I have found some wonderful support through my friends,” she said. “I have an amazingly generous group of people that have reached out to me. Even a man I didn’t even know.”

Kelly showed 41 Action News the letter her co-workers gave her recently that contained donations to help her family.

She also read a Facebook message that came from a complete stranger.

“Hi, Mary. I know you don’t know me,” the person wrote. “Your husband was furloughed due to the shutdown? If so, I would like to help your family.”

Despite the shutdown ending on Friday, Kelly said she and her husband would be cautious spending money with a deadline to reach a new deal only three weeks away.

“We’re just remaining fiscally responsible and trying to not have any extra debt,” she said.

Others around the metro were excited to get back to work next week.

Shannon Ellis, who was furloughed as an IRS employee, helped organize rallies during the shutdown.

She said next week would likely be very busy at the office.

“We all know we’re going to be swamped,” she said. “We have five weeks of work piled up.”

Like other furloughed workers across the country, Ellis said she was ready to make an income again after weeks without a paycheck.

“First check goes to paying and trying to catch up on things. First and second check,” she said. “As soon as that backpay is here it will help us get caught up on things we’ve had to push off.”

Following the temporary end to the shutdown announced on Friday, Mary Alice Kelly said she would never forget the generosity others showed.

“I’m going to think back on the people that touched me and reached out to me and helped me get through this,” she said.