For 1st Advantage CEO, a New Orleans Native, Katrina Hits Home
YORKTOWN, Va. - Dealing with hurricanes is nothing new for Adrian "Casey" Duplantier Jr. Having grown up in New Orleans and living on the Virginia Peninsula located at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay for the past 18 years, the president/CEO of 1st Advantage Credit Union has seen his share of the destructive storms and is well aware of the amount of work and resources required to rebuild affected areas after the hurricane passes. But even though Duplantier considers himself a hurricane veteran, Hurricane Katrina was more than even he bargained for. Duplantier had been vacationing with his family in Mississippi and evacuated from Bay St. Louis, Miss. just 24 hours before the eye of the storm passed over the vacation community. "I'm extremely relieved to be back home with all my family safe and accounted for," he said, adding though that with family scattered all over the Louisiana coast, the number of his relatives affected by Katrina "is sobering." The 53-year old Duplantier lived in New Orleans until he was in his thirties and was there when the city was slammed by Hurricanes Betsy and Camille in 1965 and 1969, respectively. Recalling his childhood - he lived with his family near Lake Ponchartrain - Duplantier said "it was gorgeous, with beautiful oak trees and parks. Just a fantastic place to be." "Having gone through Betsy and Camille as a young teenager, I think of the mud and stench. It's horrible," he recalled, adding that he can't even think of the economic impact of the Katrina disaster. "The question isn't whether New Orleans will rise again or not, but how long it will take. It's like interest rates, they rise and fall," he said. But Duplantier and 1st Advantage aren't waiting for that to happen on its own. "It will take a while before I know who has been affected and how badly. However, I'm not waiting to find out before I do something to help," he said. To start, Duplantier brought home with him his daughter and her three children from Biloxi, Miss. to give them a place to live until electricity and other services were restored to that city. In a 1st Advantage-wide relief effort, the $425 million CU will be matching donations to the American Red Cross made at their branches up to $1,000 until $75,000 in donations is reached. In addition, in the coming months, 1st Advantage and its community partners will be working to arrange food and clothing drives to send to Mississippi and Louisiana. The 60,000-member CU also plans to loan equipment and supplies to CUs in the impacted areas. "While I do have a lot of ties to the areas hit hardest, my desire to help goes beyond those personal ties," said Duplantier. "Living in a community that itself is still recovering from a hurricane, we owe it to those who helped us rebuild to do all we can to help victims of Katrina rebuild their lives."