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Arkansas TSA worker shares how prolonged government shutdown negatively affects daily life

Kristena McCaig began her career with the TSA in 2002 in Texas. (KATV Photo)

The partial government shutdown has impacted hundreds of thousands of federal employees across the country including those at airports working for the Transportation Security Administration.

Kristena McCaig, who lives in Pulaski County, works in a management position within the TSA at the Clinton National Airport.

She blames both sides of the political aisle for the lack of resolution to cease the shutdown.

"I hate to put it so plainly but I'd like them to all just do their jobs, the jobs we elected them for," McCaig.

She's been with the agency since 2002 and is familiar with government shutdowns but this one is especially damaging.

"This has been the longest shutdown that we've experienced. We've missed one paycheck now and we don't have a whole lot of hope to get this sorted out before the next one," McCaig said.

President Donald Trump signed legislation one week ago that guarantees back-pay to federal employees once the shutdown ends, although it's unclear just how soon the payments will be processed.

McCaig and her wife aren't in danger of losing their home or vehicles. They've managed to workout deals with their bank, mortgage, and car companies

"It's a big hit to the pride when you have to call them even though it's something outside my control," she said.

The government shutdown has created a change in lifestyle.

"The shutdown does cause extra stress during the commute I would say," McCaig said.

Family activities have been put to a halt for the most part. McCaig decided to attend the Metallica concert in North Little Rock on Sunday since she purchased the tickets in advance of the shutdown. It's perhaps their only concert of the year so a bit was of fun amidst the shutdown is worth it she added.

"What is normal like buying a cup of coffee or going out to eat is suddenly something you just don't do,"she said. "Recently, my daughter visited for a week and I had to work the entire time because of all paid leave was cancelled and we couldn't really do anything that we had planned."

The TSA released a statement, noting unscheduled employee absences on Saturday, reached 8 percent nationally compared with 3 percent one year ago on the same day (Jan. 19 2018).

But that's where communities throughout the nation have stepped in, providing gestures of support of which keeps McCaig maintaining overall a positive attitude.

"I think what's kept us going as far as what gets you up every day and puts a smile on your face is all the help and outreach we've had from the community -- lots of different organizations, churches, cities, the utility companies be willing to work with us as far as the bills are concerned."

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced a two-day citywide donation program to assist federal employees affected by the government shutdown.

The Little Rock Cares campaign calls on the community to donate canned goods, baby supplies including diapers and wipes and pet food.

Click here for a full list of needed items and donation drop-off locations.

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