ST. LOUIS (5/24/11)--Tornados touched down in Missouri and Wisconsin Sunday, causing the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to activate its online disaster relief system, CUAid.coop, to raise money for credit union people affected by a Missouri tornado. A massive tornado struck the town of Joplin, Mo., Sunday, leaving at least 89 dead, the business district demolished and nearly one-third of the community devastated in its wake. The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) is working with local credit unions to help in the aftermath. “All four credit unions with locations in Joplin have checked in with some level of damage,” said Mike Beall, president of MCUA. “Following reports from local credit union leaders, we asked the NCUF to activate CUAid.” MCUA made a donation of $10,000 to CUAid to kick-off the fundraising efforts, and contributions from credit unions bring the total to in excess of $40,000 just hours after activation. The four Missouri credit unions with branches in Joplin--District 7 Highway CU, Great Plains FCU, Joplin Metro CU and Postal Federal Community CU--experienced various levels of damage. Details are currently limited to impact on credit union structures. Postal Federal Community CU’s Joplin branch--a CO-OP Network shared branch--is severely damaged and closed. President Steve Pierson reported there are windows blown out, no power and little access. There is no word when the credit union will reopen. Cindy Atteberry, president of Joplin Metro CU, reported minor damage to the credit union’s locations. Offices are closed without computer access and security running on generators. “I hope no one ever has to go through this,” said Atteberry. “It’s truly horrible.” In addition to the damage at the credit union, Atteberry has a personal toll to bear. Her home was demolished in the storm. Ken Martin, president of Great Plains FCU, said its offices have suffered damage and instructed employees to stay home. The Missouri National Guard closed the area to traffic while it continued its search for storm victims. Offices of District 7 Highway CU had minimal damage, but are without power or telephone. “It’s heartbreaking to see such devastation,” Beall said. “With nearly 40,000 members in the area represented by these four credit unions, we know the need for support from the movement will be great. I urge everyone to give what they can to CUAid to help credit unions do what they do best--be there in times of need for their members.” Natural and man-made disasters often create immediate, emergency needs as well as long-term, ongoing needs. In response, the NCUF’s CUAid disaster relief funds can be used for a broad range of disaster-related needs such as critical care, long-term recovery, insurance pay-outs and reasonable operational needs. MCUA also has made a $5,000 contribution to the American Red Cross for Missouri tornado victims. The Wisconsin Credit Union League told News Now it had received not reports from credit unions in the LaCrosse, Wis., area, which was hit by a tornado Sunday. To make a donation, use the link.