TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – While Washington remains in a standstill thanks to the GOP-forced government shutdown, the panhandle of Florida is preparing for a tropical storm and those preps could be hampered by the freeze in government.

The Florida National Guard has about 2,000 full-time federal employees in Florida and roughly half of them have been furloughed due to the shutdown.

“We will be affected,” National Guard Capt. Melissa DeLeon told the News Service of Florida Thursday. “Our maintenance guys have been furloughed, so they are currently not here. In normal operations we would be maintaining equipment right now, and we can’t do that, since those soldiers have been furloughed.”

Florida emergency managers are working with the Guard to fund positions with short-term money from the state. The plan would be to later apply for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Panhandle was placed under a hurricane watch after Tropical Storm Karen formed Thursday morning off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.

The storm is expected to become a hurricane Friday, before making landfall early Sunday morning near the border of Florida and Alabama as a tropical storm. Rainfall in the Panhandle is expected to top six inches, with localized flooding of rivers and bays.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)


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