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As government shutdown continues, federal workers wonder how they'll get by

Furloughed EPA worker shares shutdown struggle
Furloughed EPA worker shares struggle to pay bills during shutdown 02:42

The standoff between the president and Democratic leaders over the wall has shut down parts of the government for 18 days, leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay. Combined, they are losing $1.4 billion per week.

CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz spoke to one EPA employee in Kansas who left work last Monday not sure how her family will get by. Speaking as a private citizen and local union president, Sarah Waterston said money for her family will run out February 1. She is one of more than 13,000 EPA workers wondering how to pay their bills.

"It's my job, it's my livelihood. It's how I put food on the table for my children," Waterston said. "To have to go to your landlord and say 'I don't how I'm going to pay you.' I've never had to do that."

The former Marine now works as an office manager for the EPA in Kansas. The mother of two is the primary breadwinner for her family and received her last paycheck at the end of December.

"We're trying to cut the grocery bill just down to the necessities, I mean we don't live extravagantly so it's hard to cut out any bills," Waterston said.

She said her kids "absolutely" sense that something is going on.

"They want to know why there aren't certain foods in the house, they want to know why we can't go out to eat," she said.

In an effort to help furloughed federal workers, the office of personnel management provided sample letters that can be sent to creditors for employees struggling to pay their bills. According to the real estate website Zillow, unpaid federal workers will owe $438 million this month in mortgage and rent payments.

Asked if she thinks it's worth keeping the government shutdown to get funding for the wall, Waterston said: "I don't know that it's worth the livelihoods of people. I don't know that anything would be worth that."

The shutdown is affecting agencies across the U.S., but the three hit the hardest are Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Agriculture. Some EPA workers in Kansas said they fear projects that are put on hold too long could begin to endanger the public's health.

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