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Tornado Victims Receive CU Relief: 'Outpouring Of Generosity Is Humbling'
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (6/5/13)--Credit unions have contributed more than $66,000 to the Oklahoma Credit Union Foundation's Tornado Disaster Relief Fund to assist credit union people who were impacted by a rash of tornados near Oklahoma City the past two weeks.

Tinker FCU's Moore, Okla., branch, gutted by an EF-5 tornado on May 20, will be rebuilt in the same location,, Tinker's senior management and board announced. The branch made national news when 22 people survived the tornado inside a safe deposit box vault--the only thing left standing. The branch is expected to be completed before the end of the year. (Photo provided by Tinker FCU)
"And more more checks are still coming in," said Gary Jones, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma. So far, the association has delivered $24,000 in grants.

"In the three back-to-back events, we used a short form to get $500  within 12 to 24 hours into the hands of CEOs or management to deliver to individuals, so they have cash in hand for personal things like showers and toothbrushes," Jones told News Now. "Then we prepare a more robust form" to distribute the other funds for longer-term needs.

In the three back-to-back tornado events that hit Shawnee May 19, Moore May 20, and El Reno Friday, the only serious damage was to the Moore branch of Tinker FCU, which was destroyed, said Jones. Other credit unions had interruptions in power, utilities and water and minor damage that did not adversely affect credit union buildings.

However, the human stories are more telling. The Supervisory Committee chairman of a credit union near El Reno told him that after one tornado passed, he and his wife left their shelter only to be confronted with a second storm that tossed them back into their shelter and took their home. They suffered scrapes and bruises but are OK, he said.

Another credit union told him that a comptroller's sister and brother in law were caught in a tornado. While he was putting a mattress over her, he was swept up by the twister and killed.

CUAOK has received an outpouring of generosity from around the country," Jones said, noting generosity of regulators, peers and vendors. "Please convey my sincere gratitude to people across the country. It has been humbling." He told of one credit union in Wichita that arrived with a van full of nonperishable food  and a $10,000 check for the fund.

"I try to personally deliver each check and I see the gratitude of the staff."

Meanwhile, Tinker FCU's senior management and board of directors announced that they would immediately start the process of rebuilding the Moore branch in the same location it previously was located. The facility was destroyed in the EF-5 tornado that hit Moore on May 20, killing two dozen people. Twenty-two people in the credit union survived by seeking shelter in a safe deposit box vault--the only thing left standing once the storm was over.

TFCU officials said they hope to have the new branch completed before the end of the year. The property has already been cleared of debris and the old foundation removed, said Tinker's website.

The new floor plan being finalized will have improved traffic flow, while offering the same services to members as before. The new building will have more than 6,000 square feet, with a safe deposit box vault, a Personal Finance Café, Investment Center and children's play area inside and six drive-thru lanes and an ATM outside.

"I am thrilled we are beginning the construction process so soon," said Assistant Vice President/Branch Manager Jan Davis. "I love the Moore community and the people we have served at that branch since opening in 2005. We're very excited to be staying in the same area."

To contribute to the Tornado Disaster Relief Fund, make checks payable to the Oklahoma Credit Union Foundation, mark them designated for the Tornado Disaster Relief Fund and send them to:

Credit Union Association of Oklahoma

631 E. Hill Street

Oklahoma City, OK 73105

For more information, contact Carrie Buchholz at 405-702-8622, ext. 215, or at carrie@cuaok.org.


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