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Tornado winds cracked windows of Virginia CU branch
COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (5/6/08)--One credit union is counting itself lucky in the wake of last week's tornado spree in Suffolk and Colonial Heights, Va. Winds from the storm cracked the windows of the Southpark branch of Virginia CU, but no one was hurt. Seven members were in the lobby and five were at drive-through windows at the Southpark branch of Virginia CU when the tornado hit a nearby shopping center in Colonial Heights at about 3:30 p.m. April 28. About the same number of employees were in the branch at the time. "They heard the wind and went to the center of the branch and took cover there," said Jean Holman, senior vice president of marketing at the Richmond-based credit union. Those still in their cars ducked down. "The force of the wind cracked several windows in the branch," she told News Now. However, because the windows are double paned the wind did not get into the credit union. The tornado "was very close" to the credit union, Holman said. News accounts of the day described a funnel cloud "on its way toward the credit union." One of the stores had gravel on its roof. Rocks and other debris were blown against the windows of cars in the credit union's parking lot. Some car windows burst. Both outside ATMs were damaged but were running again by the next evening. The credit union closed about an hour early because the utilities and the computer server were out of commission. There was so much debris and glass in the parking lot, it wasn't safe to drive in, and some areas were restricted, Holman said. The credit union opened two hours late, at 11 a.m., the next day. The electricity was back, but the PC servers weren't operating. Still, the credit union was able to serve its members. The credit union put into effect its business continuity plans and the employees operated the credit union offline. "We were very fortunate to have the CU Service Centers shared branch outlets. We were able to direct members to the closest shared branches," Holman added. Stacey Carmichael, the branch's manager, noted that, "At ll a.m., when we opened, anyone coming to the branch never would have known that anything had happened the day before. Every one was very supportive and everything went very smoothly." "We were so glad no one was hurt and that everyone, even members at the drive in, was OK," Holman said.
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