MADISON, Wis. (9/4/12)--Credit union leagues in the Gulf Coast states affected by Tropical Storm Isaac were reporting more credit unions with damages, mostly minor, on Friday.
About "a dozen" credit union branches, mainly along the Gulf Coast, had experienced water damage, said Charles Elliott, president/CEO of the Mississippi Credit Union Association. Much of the damage was the result of wind-blown water and roof damage rather than flooding.
Elliott said the homes of many credit union employees along the Gulf had experienced damage as well, although he didn't have an exact number.
Singing River CU's main branch in Moss Point, Miss., experienced flooding from Hurricane Isaac. Flooding was caused by a damaged roof and "blow-in water," according to CEO Jimmy Smith. A clean-up crew had bailed out about 600 gallons of water from the branch by early afternoon Friday and was using fans and dehumidifiers to prevent mold from growing.
About 25% of the branch had been damaged, Smith estimated. The credit union's loan department was serving members from the branch lobby.
"We have damage, but our credit unions look at things from the perspective of Katrina," Elliott said. "This damage is minimal compared to what we had with Katrina. On a scale of one to 10, with Katrina being a 10, this was a one or less. That's just how we look at things. We're thanking God that it wasn't any worse than it was."
Smith echoed Elliott's comments. "My staff is absolutely amazing," Smith said. "I can't say enough about their high spirits. They are looking at this as another chance to excel at member service." Smith said some of his employees' homes had suffered damages in the storms. "Thank goodness it's only minor damage," he said.
The Louisiana Credit Union League said Friday its member service representatives had starting contacting credit unions in the regions along the coast Thursday to determine their storm losses, but many credit unions remained closed on Thursday and Friday.
"We're very fortunate," said Lacey Hyer, the league's vice president of communications and public relations. "Some have minor losses."
"The league's office has no power yet," she said Friday morning, "so we're closed, but the staff is working remotely." She added that "all league staff are safe. Some haven't been back into their homes yet to determine damages."
The league's foundation was starting the paperwork to activate financial assistance and would be sending a notice to its members as soon as possible.
CO-OP Shared Branching has been receiving requests to assist Louisiana credit union members impacted by Isaac with offline transactions, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association in its newsletter, Life is a Highway (Aug. 31). "With credit unions working together through the shared branching network, members will continue to receive financial services they need as they recover from the storm," it said.
Credit unions in Florida and Alabama, which had closed Tuesday and Wednesday, began reopening on Thursday and all were open by Friday, according to the League of Southeastern Credit Unions' listing on its website.
CUNA Mutual Group, which had said Thursday that one credit union had reported major losses to a branch and seven others with minor losses, said later Friday afternoon that there was no change. "Reported losses have been relatively few, and with a couple of exceptions, damages have been confined mostly to minor interior water issues and minor exterior damage such as roofing, signs, windows and siding," said Phil Tschudy, media relations manager at CUNA Mutual..
"We will continue to monitor and respond to any new losses reported over the weekend. A lot of rain is forecast for Tennessee through the Carolinas over the next few days, but we do not expect our corporate policyholders to be impacted," he told News Now.
Credit unions with damages or losses can contact CUNA Mutual's toll-free emergency number (800-637-2676), which is answered live, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.