CUs in the South, St. Louis Help Communities Recover From Storms
With a handful of exceptions, credit unions were, as one Alabama CEO put it, “blessedly extremely lucky” in escaping personal injury or major property damage from the devastating tornado sprees of the past several days.
CUs across the South were putting their best community foot forward in providing loan assistance packages to victims of this week’s violent storms destroying whole communities in northern Alabama, rural Mississippi, Georgia and elsewhere.
“I got back home and was so saddened to see so many homes and businesses devastated with whole subdivisions wiped away,” said Stephen Swofford, president/CEO of the $410 million Alabama CU of hard-hit Tuscaloosa, where dozens lost their lives.
Swofford said he and a management team on Wednesday and Thursday visited the homes of Alabama CU employees “to make sure they were all right and had what they needed.”
Those employees are “safe and we want to help them now,” said Swofford, who is vice chairman of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and returned home to find his family OK after giving a Mississippi speech earlier in the week.
A spokesman for the league in a storm update said Friday that only two Alabama CUs, Community Credit Union and DCH experienced major damage with Community losing its Rainsville branch.
“Power is slowly coming back on so many branches are open today where they weren’t yesterday,” the spokesman said, adding that some branches still have water damage and “many credit unions are utilizing the shared branching network.”
Meanwhile in St. Louis, which was hit last Friday in an earlier line of storms, Hubert Hoosman, president/CEO of the $661 million Vantage CU in hard-hit Bridgeton, Mo., close by the damaged St. Louis Lambert International Airport, said the CU received some “pretty heartwarming thanks” and favorable TV coverage after it kept hundreds of emergency and volunteer workers fed for free during three days at an outdoor cookout in a CU parking lot.
The CU itself saw “maybe a piece of air conditioning equipment fall off” and downed trees but it was spared damage “and for that were extremely thankful,” Hoosman said.