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News Now

CU System
Situation reversed for CU that helped in Katrina
LAKE JACKSON, Texas, and PLAQUEMINE, La. (9/12/08)--In 2005, a credit union in Texas flew to the rescue to help a Louisiana credit union experiencing a liquidity crisis in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Today, with Hurricane Ike aimed at Texas, their roles could reverse. "Now that a storm that may equal the most destructive to hit Texas in two centuries is aimed straight at our credit union, the roles are reversed," said Edward Speed, president of the $1.3 billion asset Texas Dow Employees CU, located in Lake Jackson, Texas. "Our headquarters is directly in the path of the eye of Ike. We sit at 15 feet above sea level in an area that may experience 25-foot storm surges and 125 mph winds," Speed said in an e-mail. However, Thursday morning Speed received an unsolicited e-mail from Jeffrey Hendrickson, president/CEO of Dow Louisiana FCU, a $150 million asset credit union in Plaquemine, near Baton Rouge. Hendrickson wrote that his credit union's board had directed that they offer Speed's credit union full support--including office space, phone centers, taking over the automated clearinghouse and Fed wiring needs and even sending employees after Ike hits. In early September 2005, a few days after Hurricane Katrina hit Hendrickson's credit union, he called Speed. Like many other credit unions after Katrina struck, Hendrickson's was operating on a cash basis. Just before the Labor Day weekend, its cash flow was diminishing rapidly. An expected delivery from the Federal Reserve hadn't arrived (News Now Sept. 7, 2005). Within 15 minutes of the call, Speed added up all the cash on hand at all Texas Dow's branches; within 25 minutes Speed committed $600,000 in cash to Dow Louisiana FCU. Speed, who has a pilot's license, and Lance Wortham, commercial vice president, loaded the cash onto Speed's plane and flew two hours to Baton Rouge. Six hours after the initial call, Speed, Wortham and a armed security representative from the sheriff's department, delivered the cash and saved the day. Hendrickson's letter to Speed said his credit union was "standing by to assist … day or night. "We have put our senior management on alert to be ready. As our sister credit union, you all are very important to us--our board of directors has asked that we do whatever is possible to ensure you have business continuity," said the Louisiana CEO. "You all were here in a moment's notice when we needed you--and we are going to be there for you," Hendrickson wrote. Speed noted that Hendrickson "has also called me twice this morning. This is even as they clean up from Hurricane Gustav that hit them last week," wrote Speed. "There is no way to experience this and not be emotionally moved."
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