In this video, Mike Retelle, CUNA Mutual claims manager, provides an update on the Colorado wildfires and how credit unions can seek help from the insurer.
The horrific Colorado Springs wildfire was forcing more credit union branch closures Thursday amid stepped up efforts to help employee and member victims.
Meanwhile, industry concerns mounted about when the blazes might be contained, the impact of new evacuation orders and the financial burden of homes and livelihoods lost.
In addition to the $3.6 billion Ent FCU and the $420 million Air Academy, which have already posted website notices about branch closures in the Waldo Canyon Fire zone and near the Air Force Academy campus, the $1.1 billion Public Service Employees CU of Denver said it too has closed its Colorado Springs office until further notice.
More than 35,000 people had fled and hundreds of homes destroyed in that fire alone, authorities said, while several other wildfires burned elsewhere in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.
“This is a somber time for all those people who are suffering and so our prayers go out to our employees and members who have lost everything,” said Tim Dore, senior vice president of government relations for the Mountain West Credit Union Association.
Many of the largest Denver-area credit unions were already informing their members of financial relief packages including skip-a-payment, instant debit cards and mortgage interest waivers, and were launching charity donation drives to aid victims
“If your home or business was damaged as a result of the Waldo Canyon fire, we will work with you to identify your top financial priorities and assist you with loans, instant issue debit cards, temporary checks or other services,” Ent said on its website.
The $1.2 billon Elevations Credit Union of Boulder said it has already started a $10,000 matching drive through July 6 to raise funds to help the High Park fire victims with temporary housing needs.
“We’ve informed all of our SEGs about the program and we’ve spread the word within the Rocky Mountain chapter, which has agreed to contribute $500,” said Dennis Paul, assistant vice president of business and community development for the 96,300-member Elevations.
Cathy Grossman, vice president of corporate communications and development at Ent, which has closed its Woodland Park service center and a Centennial branch, is directing members to the American Red Cross and local agency charities for those providing monetary donations.
“Make a donation of food or learn more about what is needed at the Care and Share website,” advised Ent, adding that the Pikes Peak Way United Way can also be contacted about offering assistance.
Grossman said also it has trained 30 of its employees who will be dispatched to Red Cross shelter centers for the agency’s backup needs.
Dore of the MWCUA said the trade group is mobilizing assistance programs as it develops a nationwide charity drive to aid wildfire credit union victims.