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CUs back to work in Irenes wake
MADISON, Wis. (8/31/11)--Credit unions on the East Coast in the Northeast continued Tuesday to recover from the effects of last weekend’s Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irene.
One employee of Green Mountain CU, South Burlington, Vt., was unable to access his home as a result of this road damage caused by flooding. (Photo provided by Green Mountain CU)
While the impact along the coast was limited primarily to power outages, areas of the Northeast experienced flooding. Vermont was among the hardest hit areas. A branch of Vermont State Employees CU (VSECU) located in a state office building in Waterbury, Vt., was closed due to flooding. The branch is inaccessible, according to Terry Fields, VSECU vice president of finance. “We could see the waterline was about six feet high,” Fields said. “We expect to lose an ATM, all of the equipment in the branch, staff personal belongings, pretty much everything.” A former branch used for records retention and training was also flooded, but the damage was limited, Fields told News Now. The credit union was pumping water out of the facility on Tuesday. Although his credit union’s facilities weren’t affected by the flooding, Brian Fogg, president/CEO of Credit Union of Vermont, Rutland, Vt., spent Monday helping one of his employees bail water out of his home. Fogg said one of the credit union’s members was killed in the flooding and several of his employees have been impacted. Some have homes that are flooded, Fogg said. Others can’t reach their homes because of flood waters. “The credit union didn’t get hit, but we all know folks that did,” Fogg said. “This is a small state. We all know each other. Everyone’s just trying to help each other out.” Green Mountain CU, South Burlington, Vt., wasn’t directly impacted by the flooding, but at least one employee can’t reach his home because the road has been washed away, a common occurrence in Vermont this week, according to the credit union’s President/CEO Ginny Fleischman. The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions has resumed operations at its Lower Manhattan headquarters following Irene. While the federation's offices saw no damage from the storm, some headquarters staff remain unable to commute to New York City from outlying suburbs. All of the federation's field staff in Madison, Wis.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and San Francisco are working as usual, and most headquarters staff are accessible by e-mail. The federation has been reaching out to member community development credit unions, and while the majority report little or no damage, some have been affected. Renaissance Community Development CU, Somerset, N.J., was without power, phone services, or Internet access Tuesday morning. “We have not been given a time when we can expect these services will be restored," said CEO Shirley Spruill. “As a result we may not be able to answer members on a timely basis." In Vermont, another CDCU, Opportunities CU, Winooski, Vt., reported that its facilities were not directly affected, but many members have been displaced due to flooding. The credit union is already considering using the Housing and Urban Development Title 1 program, which provides 90% loan guarantees for home repairs (up to $7,500 with no collateral and $25,000 with collateral), to assist members, the federation said. In New Jersey, the New Jersey Credit Union League has been calling state credit unions to assess damages. So far, the league, the league has learned only of minor damages and power outages. Scott Teel, marketing director of Agility Recovery, a CUNA Strategic Services provider, said there was less wind damage and debris damage than expected from the Hurricane Irene. His company transported more emergency equipment into areas of anticipated need than were ultimately required. Teel said most recoveries involved telecommunication and power. “We had more members placed on alert than we’ve had in a long time, which means people took it seriously and were prepared,” Teel said. “The good news was a lot of them didn’t need to elevate their status.” Alert status means members are prepared to mobilize assets to disaster recovery status, Teel said.
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