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CUs cope with Irenes inconveniences
MADISON, Wis. (9/6/11)--Credit unions in the eastern part of the U.S. learned to cope with inconvenience in the wake of Hurricane Irene last week.
With devastating floodwaters, Vermont was among the areas most affected by Hurricane Irene. Sixty four state roads were closed due to flooding. (Photo provided by Association of Vermont Credit Unions)
Though it was not hit directly, Vermont was among areas affected most by Irene. Much of the state was devastated by flooding. Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) President Joe Bergeron summarized reports from state government, political leaders, and others to provide an update on the state’s recovery status on Friday:
* 120 homes destroyed or sustaining major damage; * 64 closed state roads; * 65 closed state bridges; * Four Red Cross shelters still in operation (along with several local shelters) for persons who lost housing; * 10,000 homes still without power; * 90 public schools still closed; and * $10 million in special low-interest financing for Vermont businesses and farms damaged by the storm is available from the Vermont Economic Development Authority.
A Vermont State Employees’ CU branch at the state office in Waterbury was flooded by the overflowing Winooski River and is expected to remain closed indefinitely. Although the homes of most of his staff avoided damage, Credit Union of Vermont CEO Brian Fogg reported that employee Austin Burbank had five feet of water in his basement. Fogg spent Monday with Burbank shoveling mud out of the basement and transporting three dump truck loads of debris, according to the AVCU (Newslines Express Sept. 2). Fogg also learned Aug. 29 that Credit Union of Vermont member Dennis Hayward was killed in a tractor accident related to the flooding. AVCU Project Manager Colin Ryan was stranded Sunday night when the road near Weston he was traveling on ended abruptly due to flooding damage.
Remnants of a metal bridge destroyed by floodwaters in Townshend, Vt. (Photo provided by River Valley CU)
Tom Edwards, manager of Green Mountain CU’s Rutland branch, was unable to reach home all week because of road damage seven miles from his home. He’s not sure when he will be able to return home, said AVCU. In Pennsylvania, Blue Chip FCU, Harrisburg, Pa., was without power until Wednesday. To continue serving members and meet end-of-the-month obligations, the credit union moved key equipment to a temporary office so back office postings such as direct deposits, share draft clearing, and posting mail/night drop deposits could be processed, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway Sept. 2). Staff set up a station in the credit union’s parking lot; distributed snacks, beverages and credit union giveaways; and employees took deposits from members. The deposits were then taken to the temporary office site for processing. Power resumed on Wednesday morning, equipment was moved back and set up, and the security system was back up and running by noon. “By noon, all was right with the world again,” Blue Chip President/CEO Cathi Martin told PCUA. Credit unions in eastern North Carolina also cleaned up in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Branch closures and some damage was reported near the direct path of the storm, but the main impact to operations seemed to be the loss of electrical power. By Thursday, all credit union branches were reported back on line and fully operational, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League (Weekly Update Sept. 2). State Employees’ CU (SECU), based in Raleigh, N.C., closed six branches Monday, while some others delayed opening. These closures and delays resulted from a loss of electrical power, but no significant structural damage was reported. Two SECU employees reported damages to their homes. A tree fell through the roof of one employee’s home. Two trees fell through the roof of another employee’s second residence. No one was injured in either instance. Marine FCU, Jacksonville, N.C., reported three branches closed early in the week due to a lack of power. The locations in New Bern, Havelock and Swansboro, which all lay near the path of Irene, reopened once electrical service was restored. Chief Operating Officer Jeff Clark noted that there was slight property damage, but the lack of power had a larger impact. Weyco CU had no power at any of its three branch locations in Plymouth, New Bern and Ayden on Monday, the North Carolina league reported. Manager Steven Hardison said Thursday that all three locations had power and had resumed normal operations. The storm damage was not limited to the immediate coastal areas, said the league. The drive through at Telco CU, Tarboro, N.C., was damaged by the wind. “The wind got underneath it and blew out some of the ceiling, a light fixture and some of the electrical lines," said CEO Charles Johnson. The exposed electrical lines and debris were secured on Wednesday and the drive through reopened. A contractor will repair the damage later. Tree limbs also snapped power lines at First Carolina People's CU, Goldsboro, N.C., which forced the credit union to close Monday. The hurricane prompted the National Credit Union Foundation to activate CUAid.coop to raise funds for credit union people impacted by the storm.
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