Federal Shutdown Is Double Whammy For Flooded Colo. Town
Friday, October 4, 2013
As the town of Estes Park, Colorado, struggles to recover from devastating flood waters, it's been dealt a new blow: the significant economic impact caused by the partial shutdown of the federal government. Renee Montagne talks to Amy Hamrick, who runs a coffee shop in Estes Park.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
First, there was the flood. It ravaged Estes Park, Colorado and destroyed one of the town's most popular spots for locals and tourists - Kind Coffee.
AMY HAMRICK: We opened the shop that morning. I was there and we a full house. That quickly turned to a bit of mayhem when the flood waters rose and just essentially came right in the front door.
MONTAGNE: Amy Hamrick owns the coffee shop; less than three weeks later, still picking up the pieces. She was hit with another blow - the government shutdown. Estes Park lies just outside Rocky Mountain National Park, now closed due to the budget stalemate. Normally, this is a critical time of year for the town's economy, spurred by tourism dollars. And we called Amy Hamrick at Kind coffee to find out how things are going.
HAMRICK: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Talk to us about the closing of Rocky Mountain National Park.
HAMRICK: Well, the park is not only the draw for the tourists that come up, you know, on the weekends, the lines of cars coming through towns on the different highways - of course that are all now closed - that is the bread and butter of the business. We carry on through the middle of October with tourism dollars and locals coming to see the elk rut and to go into the park and see the color.
And it is at its peak right now, as well. And the national park is also our largest employer in town. So our community now has lost a lot of jobs in the interim.
MONTAGNE: Have you rebuilt enough to sell coffee were the tourists to arrive?
HAMRICK: I don't have a storefront presence in town right now. No. I am - happily have a website so I have been able to continue selling coffee online throughout all of this. I think about 90 percent of town is open, dry and ready for customers. The town itself is beautiful and the golf courses have elk on them 24 hours a day.
You know, you don't have to go into the park to enjoy what the town has to offer. It just probably made it a little more challenging than we needed it to be right now.
MONTAGNE: Your husband, he's a firefighter. Is he affected by this federal shutdown?
HAMRICK: He was furloughed the other day, along with all of the government employees. It's unfortunate timing for us. It's unfortunate timing for our town to not have that paycheck coming in as well, but there's not much to do other than get through these days ahead and get back to some sense of normalcy.
MONTAGNE: Does any of this make you mad? I'm just wondering, you know, how you respond to this double whammy that's costing you and your family so much.
HAMRICK: It's been three weeks and I have been in work mode. You know, when you start a business, to be successful you have to sort of take every challenge that you face and just go through it or find a way around it or work with it. And these past three weeks has oddly been like starting over again. And I think it wasn't until the events on the federal side of things happened, that's the first time that I think my - I just - I went from sad to frustrated.
But, you know, you get up and you brush yourself off every day and you keep moving forward and try to find the opportunities that it's creating as best that you can.
MONTAGNE: Well, good luck to you and thank you for talking with us.
HAMRICK: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.
MONTAGNE: Amy Hamrick is owner of Kind Coffee in Estes Park, Colorado.
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MONTAGNE: And this is NPR News.
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