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Minimal damage from Irene reported by CUs
MADISON, Wis. (8/30/11)--Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene's swath through the East Coast states this weekend left the credit union movement in 15 states Monday taking stock of damages from wind and water, flooding, and power and telecommunications outages. The conclusion so far: no CUs were seriously impacted with damages. "Credit unions generally fared well through Hurricane Irene," said Phil Tschudy, media relations manager at CUNA Mutual Group. "As of 4 p.m. [Monday], CUNA Mutual has had no reports of any major losses to credit unions," he told News Now. "This doesn't mean credit unions were left untouched, as many are still without power and may be for several days," Tschudy said. "However, based on what we currently know, we do not anticipate any major losses to credit union structures or operations. "What we will likely see over the next few days are minor losses involving water damage to ATMs, power outage claims involving data processing systems, and minor building claims," he said. Irene hit landfall at 7:30 a.m. at Cape Lookout, N.C., as a Category 1 hurricane that was more than 500 miles wide. During its journey up the East Coast of the U.S. into Montreal, Canada, at least 21 people died in storm-related incidents. An estimated 4.5 million to 6 million people were without power during at least part of the weekend (U.S. Today Aug. 29). Although downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached New York City, several states were hard hit by flooding, especially in New Jersey, Vermont, and eastern Pennsylvania. Agility Recovery reported on Monday morning that 126 of its clients were on alert status, working with it to weigh their options for operating, with 386 total locations on alert. As of 9 a.m., 13 disasters had been declared. Loss of power and connectivity were the primary reasons for the declarations, Agility said. Three credit unions in New Jersey, Rhode Island and North Carolina were in the recovery process. Calls were coming into Agility's client services at the rate of every 10 to 15 minutes for updates, declarations and stand down situations, said Scott Teel, marketing director. (See related article, "Southeastern CUs reporting power outages from Irene," which discusses the hurricane's impact on North Carolina and Virginia credit unions. And see "NCUA addresses CU disruptions caused by Irene" in the Washington section.) The following is a wrap-up of credit union reports in other states. Vermont: Although state government declared the storm brought the worst statewide damage in 84 years, "Vermont credit unions seem to have fared the passing of Tropical Storm Irene relatively unscathed," said the Association of Vermont Credit unions. "As of noon Monday, AVCU had made contact with most of our members and learned that damage caused by Irene across much of the state has not directly affected our credit unions," said John Cote, director, information services at AVCU. "Some locations, however, are experiencing power and telecommunications outages that have temporarily affected normal operations. As a result, we've so far been unable to check the operational status of one credit union in central Vermont whose main office and branches are in one of the hardest hit regions," said AVCU. Also, several locations were hampered by the reported closing of more than 260 roads statewide, with the Vermont Department of Transportation saying that number could go as high as 300 once local roads and streets have been surveyed. Delaware: The Delaware Credit Union League contacted all Delaware credit unions, and all weathered the storm well, Alice Smith, league communications/governmental affairs director, told News Now. At Seaford (Del.) FCU, Kathy Decker, program and systems manager, reported that there was no damage or water issues--just technical ones. Seaford’s main telephone number was not working and it had no Internet at the main branch. The Millsboro branch had Internet but no data processing. Telephone and information technology professionals were reportedly on their way to fix the problems. Kim Gilson, manager of Peninsula Methodist FCU, reported having to walk through knee deep water to check on his church where the credit union’s records are kept. The credit union is located in Crisfield, Md., on the Eastern Shore, where there was quite a bit of evacuation due to the storm. Although the credit union is located in Maryland, it belongs to the Delaware League, Smith said. Luckily, everything at Peninsula Methodist was fine, Smith added. All Delaware credit unions were back to business Monday, Smith said. New York: The Credit Union Association of New York, located along the storm's path, was open on Monday. "We're all safe and working today at the association with no problems," said Bonnie Sklar, public relations coordinator. Early that morning the association "reached out to credit unions to see if they were impacted by Irene." So far, no credit unions had reported problems. New Jersey: "Our league office is up and running," said New Jersey Credit Union League President/CEO Paul Gentile. The league office is located in Hightstown, which had flooding featured in an Associated Press article picked up in several states. "While Hightstown has flooding issues, fortunately we don't," he told News Now. "We are still assessing New Jersey credit union issues," he said, adding, "Basically there is a lot of flooding in New Jersey and a lot of streets are closed, making access to some buildings difficult. I do know of some credit unions that are operating in business contingency mode." The website of Atlantic FCU, in Kenilworth, N.J., noted that "due to the effects of Hurricane Irene," all Atlantic Federal offices were closed Monday. It said the credit union would re-open today at 8 a.m. ET. Maine: In Maine, the league was temporarily affected by a power outage caused by the storm. "The Maine Credit Union League and our service subsidiary, Synergent, briefly went on generator power Sunday, but power was soon restored later that day," said Diana Dionne, communications and marketing specialist. "Credit unions experienced sporadic outages, but are now all operational without any significant damages. In Maine, 204,000 were left without power from the storm." Maryland and District of Columbia: “While credit unions were well prepared with contingency plans, we are relieved to report that outside of scattered power outages, there appears to be no major damage in the wake of Irene,” said Jennifer Simmons, interim CEO and chief membership officer for the Maryland & District of Columbia Credit Union Association. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island: Credit unions in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island “for the most part fared pretty well,” based on information received as of Monday afternoon, Donna Bevilacqua, director of communications and community relations for the Massachusetts Credit Union League, told News Now. There were some minimal power outages, as well as some credit union branches that still were out of power Monday, but members were sent to other branches, she said. “One branch in Western New Hampshire had a foot of water in the basement, but it's open,” Bevilacqua said. “Also, there were some power outages at Rhode Island and Massachusetts credit unions, but power was returned in most areas affected,” she added. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) noted that high winds brought down power lines, causing power outages in central and eastern parts of the state and that Philadelphia was dealing with flooding rivers and creeks. The association put out a call Monday morning for credit unions to report damages. The PCUA office was without power from Saturday evening to early Monday morning, but power was restored by opening time, said the association.
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