Furloughed employees hope to get back to work asap

Feds: Employees cannot work while on furlough

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - It's only been a day since the government shutdown and Melissa Smith is already running out of ways to stay busy on furlough.

"I think all of us can occupy our time for about 72 hours and then we're just going to start going crazy," said Smith.

A research ecologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in South Florida, Smith admits she didn't think Congress would fail her.

"Most of us still thought in the wee hours something would be resolved. Then we went to work on Tuesday and thought, wow, this is happening," said Smith.

During the shutdown only two employees out of 22 are working at her lab. They're doing the bare minimum, keeping insects and plants Melissa is researching alive.

Her projects in the meantime are at a standstill.

"We start many of these projects a year in advance and we should be wrapping them up. I'm not at work, we may have to start over. It'd be a huge waste of time if I can't do that," said Smith.

She and her co-workers couldn't even volunteer their time to make sure their research go to waste. The government is strict about not working while on furlough.

"Being out of work and unpaid for who knows how long is frightening. It's worrisome at best, and at worst, it's a lost of anxiety," said Smith.

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