Parts of Oklahoma are still cleaning up after tornados ripped through the state, Monday afternoon.
Because of sequestration, federally funded agencies have suffered severe cuts, the National Weather Service being one of them.Dan Sobien, the President of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, said they are currently on a hiring freeze and are bracing for a mass round of furlough notices expected in the coming weeks.
There was a 16 minute warning before the actual tornado touched down in Oklahoma, Sobien said, thankfully their local office was fully staffed during the time of the storms.
“They were lucky in one sense… their operations were a hundred percent where they should have been and needed to be to monitor all the activity they had,” he said. “Their warning went out with enough time that I’m sure saved a lot of lives.”
Some states are not as fortunate, in some cases they have 7 different openings at one office, leaving serious holes that need to filled, Sobien said. To help compensate for cuts, several employees have been forced to work overtime and mandatory unpaid days off.
“It's one person sometimes two… and it’ll be on person that takes one half of the state and then the other person will take the other half,” Sobien said. “These are individuals, human beings, deciding if they need to issue a warning to public… it’s a very stressful job.”
It’s definitely a concern for public safety and public information, Sobien said.
“It’s like juggling 20 different chainsaws,” he said. “You've got to be on your game and focused at all times… then they have to turn right back around and work a double shift because we don't have enough staff…it doesn’t take long before they start getting tired and missing things.”