CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Hundreds of thousands of federal employees received pay stubs Friday with no money on them.
It’s their first missed paycheck since the federal government shutdown started three weeks ago.
This weekend, it will officially become the longest shutdown in American history, and President Donald Trump is moving closer to declaring a national emergency to help fund a border wall along the United States-Mexico border.
A network of emergency food pantries is bracing for a possible surge of furloughed families in need.
Loaves and Fishes helps families in crisis with a week's worth of groceries.
The executive director said Friday she's already heard from federal workers, but they weren't looking for help.
"Since they weren’t working, they wanted to come here to Loaves and Fishes and help us sort food,” executive director Tina Postel said. “So even in their desperate time of need, they were looking to help out other families.”
“It's not real until it’s real,” said air traffic controller Anthony Schifano. “You get a paycheck with zeros on it, it becomes very real for every employee.”
Schifano said there are a lot of unhappy faces at work.
“Anytime you don't have a paycheck coming in, the morale on the facility is going to be somberness,” Schifano said.
Air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration agents and more are having to pinch pennies until the government is funded again.
One option is getting a loan from places like Sharonview Federal Credit Union.
“I know how hard it is for a federal employee about to miss a paycheck,” said Ricky Otey, chief operating officer for the Sharonview Federal Credit Union. “The most important thing I can say to you is please be proactive. Just hoping this is going to go away is not a strategy.”
Federal employees can also seek charitable help.
Crisis Assistance Ministries said one federal worker approached them Thursday for assistance.
Schifano said he told his family times might be tough for a little bit.
He is telling the public no matter how long the government shutdown continues, they should be confident federal workers are committed to their service.
“Things like this don't interfere,” Schifano said. “We show up to work. We provide the service, and we do our job as we should.”
Duke Energy officials told Channel 9 that federal employees should reach out to them if they are worried about not being able to pay their utility bills this month.
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