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Five years later Katrina remembered

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MADISON, Wis. (8/30/10)--Five years ago, after Hurricane Katrina stunned the nation with its heart-breaking sweep through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, Louisiana Credit Union League President Anne Cochran told trade press that the state's credit unions were concerned that people would forget them, once the next disaster came along.
Click for slide show More than one month after Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005, street signs in unlikely places collected signs advertising house gutting, tree removal and mold treatments in the Lakeview area of New Orleans. (Photo provided by CUNA)
"We won't forget," promised News Now and Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) monthly publication, Credit Union Magazine, who were among those touring the hurricane's aftermath. Since then News Now has written nearly 745 stories about Katrina and its impact on credit unions. It didn't forget, and neither did America. Yesterday, credit unions and America took a look back to Aug. 29, 2005, at what the Louisiana league calls the largest natural disaster in American history (eNews Aug. 25). Katrina was also the largest catastrophe loss experienced by credit unions and their insurer, CUNA Mutual Group. The hurricane created at least $27 million in damages to the three states' credit unions. Four months after the hurricane hit, the company had paid out $15 million on about 327 credit union facilities affected by Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which hit Louisiana and Texas a month after Katrina (News Now Dec. 5, 2005). Another $12 million in losses were covered by CUNA Mutual's insurers. This week, News Now will feature a series of stories about the hurricane's immediate aftermath and how credit unions in those states have recovered, with updates on the credit unions it reported about and how Katrina changed credit unions in those states. It will look at how Katrina changed credit union operations, with more emphasis today on disaster preparedness and communications, as well as the growth of shared branching. It will examine the role corporate credit unions had in providing liquidity for the credit unions, and how the hurricane affected the economy. Katrina proved that credit unions' cooperative philosophy works. News Now will describe the massive, unprecedented relief efforts undertaken by credit unions and their organizations and business partners, and how Katrina changed credit unions' methods of fundraising and relief efforts. News Now will also look at how credit union employees survived "the new normal" and weathered a whole different set of challenges and limitations. And it will update readers on the status of those credit unions.