Hurricane Sandy: NYC's Municipal Credit Union Responds
In response to criticisms from Municipal Credit Union members unable to access their cash and accounts, MCU’s President/CEO Kam Wong is emailing a letter to 340,000 members Thursday to explain what the credit union is doing to restore services and is prepared to do to help members in any way it can.
“Many MCU branches have reopened and the MCU team has been working around the clock to get our remaining branches open,” Wong wrote. “Some of our branches are located in the hardest hit areas and we are working as quickly as possible to get them operational. MCU members also can access their funds at ATMs bearing the NYCE logo.”
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MCU, which reopened 10 branches Wednesday, also said Thursday its website is operational and members can now do transactions on it.
However, an MCU member responding to an MCU article Wednesday said he/she went to three NYCE ATMs and still cannot access account information.
“It (ATM) says access denied and I think it's horrible that they have no emergency location set-up to try and assist people during this time of devastation,” wrote “Disappointed customer” in the article’s comment section on Wednesday. “The 800 # they set-up only tells you about the branches that are open, but how do you know people can get to the branches. You have to have a back-up plan in place when you hold people's money and their livelihood in your hands.”
Sherry Goldman, a spokesperson for MCU, responded: “From what I know, members can access funds through the NYCE network of ATMs, but I don't know if any ATM network gives the ability to check on account balances on accounts from different banks/CUs.
Municipal's situation is notable in part because of its size but also because the credit union was one of those especially hard hit by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, which significantly impacted the credit union's headquarters.
The credit union at the time also allowed members to overdraw their accounts via ATM withdrawals. The vast majority of the credit union's members who did so made good their overdrafts, but Municipal wound up prosecuting a few members who had refused to make up their imbalances, and the credit union has faced questions about its emergency preparedness.
Wong said in his letter that MCU is here to help in any way it can “one member at a time.”
“If you or someone you know was affected by the severe storms and floods, our Membership Assistance Program can help,” he wrote. “You may qualify to:
- Receive emergency credit line increases on your existing MCU Visa card.
- Modify or extend payment on loans, credit cards or lines of credit.
- Receive special assistant with lost, missing or late loan and credit card payment.
- Receive a refund on any returned items and or non-sufficient funds.”
Wong also encouraged members to check MCU’s website, nymcu.org, or call 1-888-220-0320 for information updates.
MCU said it will reopen other branches when power is restored.
In a statement released early Thursday morning , Con Edison, New York’s primary power provider, said it expects to make significant progress restoring electricity over the next two days due to Wednesday's damage assessment and field work planning.
Additional crews from around the country continue arriving from as far away as California to assist New Yorkers. Cargo planes are unloading their equipment and will be assigned throughout the area.
ConEd reported approximately 676,000 customers have no electricity. That included 227,000 in Manhattan, 103,000 in Queens, 59,000 in Brooklyn, 83,000 in Staten Island and 36,000 in the Bronx. In Westchester County, the company reported 166,000 customers out of service.
“The last several days have been tough for many of our members and their families and we hope you are safe,” Wong wrote in the letter to members. “Our hearts go out to the communities that have been hit the hardest by this historic hurricane. We want to assure you that MCU is standing with you now as the recovery effort begins”