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MOBILE, Ala. – Hurricane Ivan, the third major hurricane to strike the U.S. in less than a month, has rattled the residents of four states-including credit union members, staff and volunteers-closing credit unions and evacuating personnel as the Credit Union Times headed to press. As of press time, the category four Ivan was making a beeline for the Alabama coast, close to Mobile, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to Kate Brand, Director of Public Affairs for the Alabama Credit Union League, the league has already decided to start posting storm and storm damage updates on its Web site as long as the Birmingham area has power. The league has also been working with a company to provide credit unions an 800 number where they will be able to leave messages for their staff should their own phone systems shut down. Brand explained that there are roughly 28 credit unions in the part of the state that is expected to take the brunt of the storm’s damage. In addition, several of the state’s larger credit unions have branches in areas where the hurricane is expected to come ashore. Brand said that there were more than a dozen Alabama credit unions in mandatory evacuation zones. As part of its preparation for Ivan, as well as to help credit unions still recovering from Hurricanes Charley and Frances, the National Credit Union Foundation has reactivated its National Disaster Relief Fund to help raise funds for credit unions and credit union members who have been hurt by the most recent three hurricanes. Amy Swanstrom, Director of Communications for the NCUF, said that the Disaster Relief Fund has been in place for many years and that NCUF activates the fund when circumstances demand it. “The people up and down the east coast affected by the recent hurricanes are in our thoughts and prayers,” said Chuck Purvis, NCUF Chairman and Senior Vice President of Coastal Federal Credit Union. “Speaking on behalf of the National Credit Union Foundation’s board of directors, we’re gratified to be able to provide aid by making this national call for relief funds.” Liberty Enterprises, a leading credit union vendor and NCUF supporter announced that it has given $10,000 to the fund, while individual credit unions have also helped. The Anheuser Busch Employees Credit Union has announced that members living in the impacted areas will be able to get Emergency Assistance loans which carry an interest rate of 1% below prime and members do not need to begin making payments for six months. The St. Louis, Missouri, based credit union has branches in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa Florida. The credit union’s sponsoring brewery has supplied thousands of bottles of bottled water into Florida’ most hurricane ravaged areas as well. For its part, the Florida League reported that its credit unions across the panhandle had begun closing branches and getting ready. The league’s Hurricane Relief Fund has over $150,000 in pledges so far and has disbursed $42,000 in relief grants. Offers of support continue to pour in, according to Mark Ivester, vice president of communications for the league. But as most credit union employees and staff in the area have joined residents moving away from the storm, one employee of CUNA has taken the call to move closer to it. Dave Klavitter. CUNA’s Vice President for Editorial Communications is one of the volunteers helping the Red Cross prepare Gulf Coast residents for hurricane Ivan’s potential arrival. Klavitter has worked with the Red Cross as a volunteer on its emergency public affairs efforts for many years and he explained that the organization had called for his help in part because Ivan is the third hurricane in less than a month and that had left them short staffed. Klavitter reported that the residents of Panama City had begun to take the hurricane seriously and that the roads were beginning to fill as residents complied with mandatory evacuation orders. He and other public affairs officers had been keeping the public up to date on the locations of shelters as well as other Red Cross information. Interviewed on September 13, Klavitter said he and the other Red Cross volunteers had been evacuated twice already from hotels as the evacuation orders began to be issued and looked forward that evening to probably staying in a shelter inland. He and CUNA haven’t yet determined if his time spent volunteering would come out of his vacation days or, as in a previous hurricane effort, out of days which had been set aside for training. “You really can’t get much better training than during one of these emergencies,” he said. “People have noted that there is a natural bridge from being a part of the credit union movement and being a volunteer at a time like this” Klavitter said. – [email protected]

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