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15K raised for CUs in tornadoes league surveys damage
MADISON, Wis., and TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (5/4/11)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) is on site in Alabama to survey
Click to view larger image League of Southeastern Credit Unions President/CEO Patrick La Pine talks with Becky White, assistant to the CEO of DCH CU, Tuscaloosa, Ala., about damage to the credit union from the April 27 tornadoes in six Southern states. DCH CU lost part of its roof.
Click to view larger image A reminder of the hit and miss devastation of last week's tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where Tuscaloosa CU is working with low-income families in this housing project who were affected by the disaster .
Click to view larger image Last week's tornadoes in the South destroyed a Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Housing Authority low-income housing project. Tuscaloosa CU is working with the families who lived here to help meet their essential needs. (Photos provided by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions)
the needs of credit unions, employees and volunteers, and members from last week's tornadoes in the South. The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has collected $15,000 from the credit union community since activating its online disaster relief system,, Saturday. "Visiting the affected areas and talking to credit union officials and members really drive home the human toll an event like last Wednesday's tornadoes have on our communities," said Patrick La Pine, president/CEO of LSCU. "I am heartened by the response of our credit union community and the human spirit in responding to this tragedy, which will have a lasting impact on the region for years to come." The CUAid campaign is to assist credit union people affected in the Southern part of the country. The tornadoes killed at least 342 people in seven states--250 of them in Alabama--and damaged credit unions, and members and employees' homes. In Tuscaloosa, Ala., alone, the tornadoes cut a six-mile swath that destroyed more than 5,000 homes and businesses--including a credit union branch--and left several thousand people homeless. City officials confirmed 34 fatalities but say 434 more people are missing (USA Today May 2). On Monday and Tuesday, LSCU visited credit unions in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where one credit union lost a branch and another lost part of a roof. Monday league staff visited DCH CU, which lost part of its roof. The league reported Monday night that DCH, which serves employees and families of a local hospital, was operating on generator power and leveraging shared branching so members can access their money. DCH opened at noon Monday after being closed last Thursday and Friday, said the league. Alabama CU and Tuscaloosa CU are helping DCH members access their money and helped them get a maximum of $200 out of their account, even though DCH's server was down, said the league. "Many hospital employees count on DCH for accessing their money right after payday," said Mike Bridges, league vice president of marketing and communications. DCH set up a mobile center in the hospital cafeteria and allowed each member an emergency $500 loan. It processed $125,000 worth of emergency loans and "truly went above and beyond to help members in their greatest time of need," said Bridges. Two DCH employees lost everything they had in the tornado. The Southeastern Credit Union Foundation (SCUF) is working to access their needs and accepting donations through its Disaster Relief fund at, Bridges said. Alabama CU is working with members to provide help. It is providing loan extensions and $1,000 no-interest loans, waiving payments, and restructuring loans, said the league. Tuscaloosa CU is working with SCUF and the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority to help 116 families whose homes were destroyed in the tornado. The housing authority is finding the families homes, but they need money to turn on the electricity. Then they will need essentials such as pots and pans, towels, sheets, Tupperware and furniture. Pen Air FCU, Pensacola, Fla., donated a mobile branch to Community CU in Gadsden, which the league delivered Tuesday in Rainsville, where the credit union's branch was destroyed by a tornado. Pen Air also is donating supplies. Pen Air President/CEO Ron Fields personally drove the first round of supplies collected--1,200 bottles of water and 100 packs of Baby Wipes, which were requested by rescue workers--to the affected areas during the weekend. In addition, Pen Air FCU will collect donations and supplies for the relief efforts in the coming weeks, it said in a press release. The credit union community is making an impact, said NCUF. "Thank you to the individuals and organizations such as the Ohio Credit Union Foundastion, Credit Union Association of the Dakotas, the World Council of Credit Unions, St. Agnes Employees FCU (Baltimore), and Premier FCU (Greensboro, N.C.) who have made donations to CUAid," said Tom Candell, NCUF deputy executive director, chief operating officer and chief financial officer. "Everyone who supports CUAid is helping affected credit union people directly with critical needs, longer-term recovery needs, operational needs, and assisting credit union members," Candell added. Credit unions in every state can donate through the secured website, which accepts credit cards and wire transfers. As donations post through, NCUF will coordinate with the credit union leagues across the southern part of the country to distribute money efficiently to credit union employees and members in the affected areas, said NCUF.
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