HOUSTON -

Nearly all 32,000 employees at NASA's Johnson Space Center returned to work on Thursday after an 11th hour budget agreement ended 16 days of uncertainty.

That includes about 3,000 employees at Johnson Space Center. Congress and the White House reached a deal to end the government shutdown Wednesday night.

"It was definitely nerve-racking, not knowing when exactly when I was gonna get back to work, if we were gonna get paid or not," said Aaron Burton, a NASA scientist.

The shutdown not only made a big impact on NASA employees, but their families and surrounding businesses in the Clear Lake community. Previous shutdowns in 1995 and 1996 had little effect on the operations of NASA or the local economy.

The VA benefits office also reopened Thursday.

Many area business were crippled by the furloughs. For weeks restaurant tables that used to be occupied by government workers near Fort Sam Houston, sat empty.

"Well, we had a few days slow of course. What do you do?" said Frankie Camera, Frenchie's restaurant owner.

In Clear Lake on Thursday, the lunch rush at Frenchie's was back to normal, as NASA employees returned to their routines.

Wednesday's agreement only provides funds until mid January, and the debt ceiling issue must be addressed just a few weeks after that.

Furloughed employees are still waiting to see whether they will receive back pay for what they lost during the shutdown.