Elevations Credit Union President/CEO Gerry Agnes spotted partially blue skies Monday morning, a much welcome sight after Boulder, Colo., and surrounding communities were devastated by epic flooding triggered by seven straight days of unrelenting rain turning rivers into raging torrents, damaging or destroying thousands of homes, ruining dozens of roads and bridges, and claiming the lives of eight people.
Fortunately, none of the CEOs at Elevations CU, Premier Member FCU and Boulder Valley CU reported any damages to their collective 26 branches that serve more than 162,000 members throughout the Boulder area.
But some credit union employees at Elevations CU were not so lucky.
“Where the pain and heartache is at is really with our staff and members,” said Agnes. “One of our branch managers said his home is under seven to eight feet of water and we are hearing more of that.”
Agnes spent the day traveling to the credit union’s 10 branches that serve Boulder, Westminster, Lafayette, Longmont and Loveland. The branches were closed Thursday morning, all day Friday and reopened Saturday.
“From what I have learned there are about 5% percent of our (employees’) homes that have been submerged (or had) some form of serious water damage. Many of them are unable even to have access to their homes,” Agnes said.
The $1.3 billion Boulder-based credit union has about 320 employees.
Elevations CU has been assisting employees with finding temporary housing. The credit union also is assessing how the flood has affected more than 100,000 of its members and suspects some of them were hit hard. According to initial estimates reported in local and national media, about 1,500 homes were destroyed and 17,500 were damaged by the flooding.
Over the weekend the credit launched a fundraising initiative to raise $200,000 in emergency funds to help flood victims. If $100,000 in donations are raised, Elevations CU will match it, said Agnes.
In 2010, the credit union raised more than $96,000 to aid victims of the Four Mile Canyon Fire that destroyed 168 homes and scorched 6,200 acres in the Rocky Mountain National Forest just a few miles west of Boulder, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
At the $300 million Boulder Valley Credit Union only one employee had basement damage, one employee had his apartment damaged, and a third employee didn’t have access to his home because it’s in an evacuation zone. It’s believed, however, that the employee’s home wasn’t damaged, said Boulder Valley CU President/CEO Rick Allen.
“Our employees were pretty lucky,” he said.
On Thursday afternoon, the credit union closed all five of its branches but reopened three of them on Friday. All of them were operating Monday.
“There is an access issue with the Estes Park branch,” said Allen. “There is only one alternate route (to the branch) and it’s pretty lengthy.”
In addition to the many roads that have been ruined by the flood, state transportation officials said up to 50 highway bridges have been destroyed or seriously damaged, according to national media reports.
Carlos Pacheco, president/CEO of the $445 million Premier Members Federal Credit Union, said about 10 employees were evacuated but none of their homes had been destroyed by the flood.
However, one employee cannot access his home because of road damage. Another employee is waiting to hear when he can return home in a previously evacuated area but doesn’t know if there has been damage to his home, Pacheco said.
The credit union was forced to closed six of its 11 branches on Thursday, but three were reopened on Friday morning. All branches were up and running on Monday.
“Operations are getting back to normal. Schools are back up and running here. The community is getting back to normal,” said Pacheco.
Pacheco considers his credit union lucky, particularly because one of its Boulder branches was just 15 to 20 blocks away from where a nearby river caused massive flooding.