Refuge employees back at work

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NOXUBEE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- Now that the government has reopened and employees are back at work, many are trying to get back on their feet.

That includes the people who keep the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge running.

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“It’s so hard,” said project manager Steve Reagan. “It was such a roller coaster you know you have your good days and then you have your bad days.”

Reagan was one employee who continued to work at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife refuge despite the government shutdown.

Although he wasn’t getting paid, his motivation to keep the refuge stable kept him going.

“You want to come to work and get good work done,” said Reagan. “You know we really believe in what we do you know national wildlife refuge is more about managing it for wildlife and when the government shuts down it’s like we watch it happen and you just kind of hope that nothing bad happens.”

But the Refuge wasn’t the only thing on Reagan’s mind.

“Everything that you can imagine happened at home,” said Reagan. “You know your bills, electric bills, water bills, propane, and all that stuff you know we’re desperately trying to catch up and pay those bills.”

Park Ranger Andrea Dunstan was dealing with the same dilemma.

But luckily she had a little help from her husband.

“You have to deal with how are you going to pay bills,” said Dunstan. “How are you going to pay your mortgage, your electric, your sewer, your water, everything out of your spouse’s income or for some who don’t have that, out of your savings, which we used a lot of savings.”

Dunstan said even though she was out of work, she was constantly stressed and thinking about everything that needed to be done at the refuge.

“Some of our kiosk work, trail work, putting in speed bumps, things that just need to be done that all got put on hold with this,” said Dunstan.

“It wasn’t a vacation. It wasn’t staying at home and just relaxing,” said Dunstan.

But during that time volunteers stepped up, taking care of some of the chores.

Dunstan is grateful for the support..

“One of my jobs every Saturday morning I’m out there picking up trash so I’m a very appreciative of someone else helping out it is wonderful that they came out and took it upon themselves to pick up the trash,” said Dunstan.