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CUs report big scare no damage in LA earthquake
LOS ANGELES (7/30/08)--Credit unions and the movement's organizations based in Southern California reported no damages from the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the Los Angeles area Tuesday morning. The quake occurred just before noon in California. "It happened just about 15 minutes ago," Kathy Marcelletta, Wescom Central CU branch manager, told News Now Tuesday. Marcelletta's branch, which is located near Chino Hills, the epicenter of the earthquake, didn't feel a large impact from the quake. "The branch shook a little," she said. Members were in the branch at the time of the quake, but were not concerned, she said. Barbara Ago, president/CEO of the Pomona branch of Cal Poly FCU, just arrived at her office when she was contacted by News Now. The credit union is located in a student union building on the Cal Polytechnic Institute campus, and was just retrofitted, she said. "We are fine," she told News Now. "It was a good shake. We're a few miles from the epicenter." The credit union's office wasn't damaged, and nothing was broken--which is likely due to the fact that the credit union just repainted its walls, and had unstrapped all of its bookcases from the walls. "Our computers are up," she added. But the building the credit union is located in has some damage, and there may be damage to other buildings on campus. A campus water main broke, and drywall cracked in other buildings. Glass is being cleaned up, and "I did hear some ambulances drive by," she said. Earthquakes in the area happen about once every 15 years, she said. "We're used to it." The California Credit Union League (CCUL), based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is about nine to 10 miles from the quake's epicenter, Matt Buck CCUL public affairs specialist, told News Now. “People felt the quake in Los Angeles and we felt the shaking here," Buck said. “But there was no damage, just one guy’s Pez dispensers tipped over in the corner of our office.” “We haven’t heard anything from credit unions,” he added. Western Corporate FCU's (WesCorp) facilities are located in San Dimas, about 10 miles from the epicenter. "We haven't had a good shaker like that in years," Walter Laskos, public relations director at WesCorp, told News Now. "It caught people off guard and rattled our nerves, but nothing fell off the shelf. "A lot of folks evacuated, but several remained and answered the phones. The first thing we do is check the critical systems immediately, such as the gas lines, and they were fine," he said. WesCorp's building, which was visibly shaking, is built to hospital standards and can withstand an earthquake of 8.0 magnitude, he said. WesCorp had no reports from credit unions of any damages, and Laskos was preparing a message to its member credit unions stating that WesCorp was operating. "It's business as usual." Stan Hollen, president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, located in Rancho Cucamonga, told News Now, "It was a good jolt and lasted about eight seconds. You definitely felt it." CO-OP's three-story building is seven miles from the epicenter, he said. Staff did not evacuate the building, but "we have a few rattled employees." The aftershock, which registered 3.8, was "barely noticeable." ATMs in the CO-OP Network were undamaged. "We checked with the Network's operations center and no ATMs or lines are down," Hollen said.
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