Furloughed workers recalled as Karen approaches

National Guard, FEMA workers needed for storm preparations

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Hundreds of government workers considered nonessential government workers when they were furloughed Tuesday were asked Thursday to return to work to help prepare the Gulf Coast for the arrival of Tropical Storm Karen.

About 1,000 civilian employees of the Florida National Guard were sent home on Tuesday. Weekend deployments were also cancelled. At Guard headquarters in St. Augustine, about 10 employees returned to work Thursday, about 25 more will return on Friday.

With storm looming in the Gulf, Adjunct Gen. Emmett Titshaw has asked Washington for permission to recall hundreds more to preposition equipment and get soldiers in the armories ready to respond.

"We'd normally be taking certain preparatory action with our force," Adjunct Gen. Emmett Titshaw said. "Half of that force is furloughed, so we are in a little bit of a disadvantage here."

The White House has already authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to some furloughed workers to help prepare for the storm.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says President Barack Obama is being updated about the storm and directed his team to ensure staffing and resources are available to respond to the storm.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were furloughed by to the partial government shutdown. It's unclear how many FEMA workers are being brought back.

Tropical Storm Karen is the first named tropical system of the season to threaten the U.S. this year. A hurricane watch is in effect from Indian Pass in the Florida Panhandle to Grand Isle, La.

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