WASHINGTON (7/3/12)--While credit unions geared up CUAid to help Colorado credit unions and members affected by wildfires, credit unions along the Mid Atlantic experienced a different scenario: power outages related to fas- moving storms with hurricane-force winds that hit Friday and Sunday, creating power outages for millions in stifling heat, at least 17 deaths, downed trees in six states, and dangerous commuting conditions for some on Monday.
Early reports indicate that there were no major disruptions in credit unions' service. However, is too early to gauge the full impact on credit unions and their members. Credit union leagues in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio said they had not received enough information to determine whether all credit unions in their state had power or were open. News Now was unable to make contact with Maryland/D.C. Credit Union Association and the West Virginia Credit Union League to determine the status of credit unions in those states.
The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Washington, D.C., office was open Monday. While the area was working hard to restore power, some CUNA staffers remained without power in their home Monday. Some had challenges commuting to work because of tree damage clogging roads amd signal outages on the Metro, which slowed some trains on the D.C. metropolitan-area subway system.
The National Credit Union Administration, located in Alexandria in hard-hit northern Virginia, was "open for business as usual," said John Zimmerman, NCUA public affairs specialist, when asked by News Now. "Many employees made it into work despite lacking electricity at their homes or dealing with the traffic hazards on the way in." He noted that "federal employees were given the opportunity to take unscheduled leave."
The Virginia Credit Union League attempted to reach out to credit unions' CEOs and senior staff Monday, said Lewis Wood, league vice president of public relations and communications. "Being a holiday week, I'm certain that some [credit union senior staff] planned to be out of the office. I'm sure there are those without power, as well, given the fact the outages are still so widespread," he told News Now. "The good news is that we've had no reports, at present, of any significant damage to credit union facilities/branches," he added.
DuPont Community CU in Waynesboro, Va., had minor network connectivity and phone issues, but was the only financial institution in that area open on Saturday, Wood said. DuPont Community posted a 3 p.m. Monday update that said its home banking is available, and that ATMs are available in Lucy Lane, West Maine, Stuarts Draft, Community Way, Reservoir, Kaylor, Verona and Woodstock. "We continue to work with our power and Telco vendors to restore service at our Riverside and Terry Court locations," the site said. Members were advised to get cash back in stores that have that option and to continue checking the site for updates.
Another credit union in Arlington said one of its branches was closed Monday because it was without power. "With the holiday approaching, we anticipate call volume and branch traffic to be high," said Arlington (Va.) Community FCU in a service-status update to its members after the storm. It has disaster preparation and recovery plans in place and was able to quickly restore access to vital systems and services with a few limitations, the credit union said.
A branch on Glebe Road did not have power Monday and was closed. Incoming phone calls to the credit union weren't working Monday morning but were expected to be functional within the hour, with reduced capacity for volume. "Expect longer hold times," the credit union told members.
Arlington Community also noted its Access 24 was not available Monday, but Online Banking and Web Pay were functioning. Its Columbia Pike branch was open Monday, but it had limited printer, fax and phone system capabilities and was expecting an overflow of volume from the closed Glebe Road branch. The credit union said it would provide updates on its website.
In Baltimore, more than 220,000 BGE customers--homes and businesses--in Central Maryland remained without power Monday, said the The Baltimore Sun (July 2). The majority will be restored to power Thursday or Friday, but some may take longer, said BGE.
West Virginia media reported that 60% of the state, or 263,845 customers of Appalachian Power, was without power Monday afternoon (The Charleston Gazette July 2). More than 257,000 American Electric Power (AEP) customers there also still had no power Monday afternoon (The Herald Dispatch July 2). More than 50 of AEP's substations were damaged Friday and it is estimated power will be fully restored in Cabell, Wayne and Putnam counties by late Friday. The southern part of the state was hit both Friday and again Sunday by storms. In Kentucky, about 39,000 were without power statewide.
The Herald Dispatch, said that overall Ohio has 399,910 customers without power Monday afternoon.
The Ohio Credit Union League told News Now Monday afternoon it sent a message to credit unions "first thing in the morning, trying to get an assessment of the situation and letting them know that the league, and the foundation, is there to help," said Patrick Harris, league director of media relations. "We received only a few responses, and from what we can gather, only a few are experiencing any issues--power outages, system reboots" and so on. "We have not heard of any branches or offices closing as a result of the storm," he told News Now.
In North Carolina, the website of Raleigh-based State Employees' CU, which has branches all over the state, did not have any reference to closed branches or power outages. Jeff Hardin, director of communications at the North Carolina Credit Union League said the league had not heard from credit unions about damages or closures.