BRISBANE, Australia (1/13/11)--Continued flash flooding, including what has been described as an “an inland tsunami” bearing down on Brisbane, has saturated the province of Queensland, Australia. After three weeks of rain, communities are underwater, homes have been destroyed, credit unions affected and the personal toll stands at 78 missing and 30 presumed dead.
A lone wallaby is stranded on a hay bale outside the town of Danby, Queensland, a victim of the worst flooding in Australia’s history. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Massive service disruptions have hit Queensland’s mutuals, including credit unions and building societies, which are dealing with operational challenges and attempting to help members cope with what authorities have described as the worst floods in Australia’s history. Heritage Building Society, based in Toowomba, has closed multiple branches and enacted hardship provisions for its members, including postponing loan payments and adjusting credit contract terms, according to Bill Armagnacq, the assistant CEO. Credit Union Australia was forced to shut down its online banking services in Brisbane (finextra.com
Jan. 12). Also, credit unions and building societies in the cities of Warwick, Maleny and Gympie have struggled with flooding, protecting branches with sandbags and in some cases closing them in the face of the rising waters. No credit union staff have been injured or killed during the disaster; however, conditions are expected to worsen now that Brisbane is in the path of the massive wave. World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) member Abacus Australian Mutuals, which serves the country’s 104 credit unions and nine building societies, has taken steps to help its member institutions. The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, part of WOCCU, has also stepped in and will work with Credit Union Foundation Australia (CUFA) to channel funds to mutuals under siege. WOCCU will make a donation from its own disaster relief funds and invites interested individuals and credit unions to contribute to Australian credit union rebuilding and relief. “Credit unions comprise a global movement and, as such, stand together in the face of disaster,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer “We know that the strong leadership of Abacus and the support of CUFA will make a significant difference in the recovery of Australia’s credit unions and building societies.” WOCCU will send its donation directly to CUFA. Those interested in making a contribution to Australia's relief effort can send their donation by check, credit card or wire to:
Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions
5710 Mineral Point Rd.
Madison, WI 53705, USA
Donations may be made online with a credit card. Use the link. For wire transfer information, contact: Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, 608-395-2055, or firstname.lastname@example.org
. Please indicate that the donation is for Australia Disaster Relief.