YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK - For the first time in more than a month, America's first national park is fully functional. But in Yellowstone's northern gateway, people aren't ready to take a breath just yet.
At least half of Gardiner's 900 residents are government employees, since Yellowstone Park and Custer-Gallatin National Forest are based there, says Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Loren Barrett.
Gardiner Food Pantry Director Linda Gray hopes to be someone those employees can turn to if times remain tough.
"Gardiner always comes together," Gray explains. "They always do. And you saw a lot of that in Gardiner during this time. They'll help you out anyway they can. And they did. Other than that, you know, Gardiner's been the same."
But it's more than just empathy Gray feels for furloughed workers. Her husband Britton is a park employee who has been working without pay.
Some businesses, like Gardiner Market, the grocery store, have seen consistent sales, while others, more dependent on tourists for cash, have seen drops in revenue. A situation they say could have been much worse if the shutdown happened at the peak of tourism season. But it's a tough situation that Gray and her husband haven't let affect their mindset.
"It's been the same!" she says. "He goes up, he goes to work, he does his job, and the only difference is he hasn't gotten a paycheck for it."
Gray says neighbors have been taking care of one another in Gardiner, pitching in to pay for groceries or offering emotional support. Since the possibility of a partial shutdown could return in three weeks, Gray and the Gardiner community can only hope for action on Capitol Hill.
"I hope they're able to work things out and people don't have to worry about that all over again in three weeks," Gray laments. "And I have no doubts that if it does happen then all the people that banded together the first time will band together again. And just start helping each other, as we should. Neighbors helping neighbors."