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Thousands of flooded members get help from Wisconsin CUs
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (6/30/08)--Wisconsin credit unions are offering special loan terms or reducing or waiving fees on financial services to help people recover in the wake of widespread flooding. No credit unions have reported flood damage to the Wisconsin Credit Union League. However, thousands of their members were affected by the floods, and many credit unions have prepared to help them. “Credit unions see first-hand the need for relief in the communities in which they live and serve,” says Brett Thompson, league president/CEO. “While assistance may vary among credit unions, in situations like this, they’re doing everything in their power to help their members.” One credit union has set aside $1.5 million to offer existing members below-market-rate home equity loans of up to $5,000 for as long as five years. The loans are intended to help people with clean-up services; home repairs; wall repairs; and replacement of furnaces, hot water heaters, washer and dryers, or furniture damaged in the flood. The credit union is also extending an auto loan special, with rates as low as 3.99%, to accommodate members needing to replace flood-damaged cars, and it is allowing qualifying members with consumer loans to skip one month’s payment without fees, the league said. In other areas, credit unions have suspended or waived overdraft charges and other fees for members. And because of road closures that have made some credit unions difficult to access, several credit unions are helping each other’s members by cashing their checks or providing cash withdrawals. “In times like these, locally owned credit unions are able to step up quickly with meaningful help for their members,” Thompson said. Thompson said it has been encouraging to see volunteers in communities across Wisconsin pulling together to help with sandbagging, cleanup and fund-raising in the aftermath of the devastation. Ironically, a retiree who spent 25 years as a volunteer on the Board of Directors for one Milwaukee area credit union lost everything when his home washed away in flood waters. A fund has been established at his credit union to help the family. “They are starting from scratch, having to replace almost everything for daily living,” Thompson explains. “They have no home, no land and no possessions, but they still have a mortgage, property taxes and the cost of demolishing what’s left of their home. So they’re thankful their credit union was first in line to help.”
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