RADFORD, Va.- The Radford Pipe Shop Employees Federal Credit Union is mourning two members who were killed and contacting hundreds of other members now out of work after a recent plant explosion.
"We're trying to work with affected members one-by-one," said a FCU spokeswoman just days after the blast. "Our Board has met on this and talked about it. It would be hard to set the same policy for everybody, since everybody's going to be in a different situation."
The New River Castings plant has been one of RPSECU's largest SEGs, according to the Virginia Credit Union League.
"We really feel for the families," said one Radford Pipe Shop Employees FCU official, who asked not to be quoted by name. "We'll have to work with our members as best we can. We'll make it through, but it could be a long, rocky road."
Plans to help members cope with their loss of jobs and workplace were not formulated when Credit Union Times went to press, because it was still too soon after the explosion, several officials said. The community of Radford is still mourning those who died. In addition, quite a number of plant workers were injured, including several FCU members.
The FCU very recently began renovating new offices within several blocks of the plant where the explosion occurred, a RPSEFCU spokeswoman said. While she said that this is a difficult situation, she added that the FCU will get through it "just fine."
However, other CU officials contacted for this report noted that the timing was unfortunate on the renovation of the new facility. If the explosion had occurred prior to signing contracts, it would have made it easier to cope with if this project had not been undertaken at this time.
While the Virginia Credit Union League had not yet been asked to help, spokesman Lewis Wood commented that the league would be happy to do so.
"If there's anything they need, we'll be more than willing to help them out," Wood said. "But at this point, we understand that they are still working on their course of action themselves."
Reportedly, a bank in Radford has set up a fund to help the families of those who died. In addition to the 365 FCU members idled by the explosion that occurred at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night (March 5) after there was a gas leak at the plant, more than 200 other Radford residents also were out of work. According to the daily Roanoke Times, about 40 of these workers have been shifted over to the neighboring Radford Foundry. Both plants are owned by Internet Corp. of Troy, Mich.
As of last month, the two plants employed 1,050 people with a combined payroll of almost $40 million, according to Mike Gangloff, Roanoke Times reporter. Gangloff reported that Radford (which reportedly has about 15,000 in population) is reeling financially after the disaster. -