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MARIETTA, Ohio – Credit unions in this Ohio River community of 15,000, hit hard by remnants of Hurricane Ivan that caused Sept. 18-19 flooding, were working hard last week to get services and operations back to normal with one branch of the $72 million Ohio Valley Community CU still closed. “We lost everything – our equipment, our phone system, routers and just about every piece of paper,” lamented Deanna Meyer, CEO of Ohio Valley of Clarington, whose shuttered office in downtown Marietta was being operated out of temporary space in the $12 million Southeastern Ohio CU of Cambridge, All of Ohio Valley’s offices were closed when floodwaters rose more than 26 feet in a span of only 36 hours on Sept. 19. At the CU’s Marietta branch, water levels rose higher than the teller stations, cresting to six feet in some places. Yet the credit union, like others in the region, still sent staff members to help distribute supplies to residents. Marsha Leasure, manager of Southeastern Ohio, whose CU was closed during the flooding but spared damage, ended up helping evacuate residents of a trailer park in the middle of the night and later manned a food and supply distribution center in Marietta. Leasure worked with Washington-Morgan Counties Community Action to turn a former department store into a relief center and recruited family members to help purchase items at a Sam’s Club (they bought every broom and mop in the store) for distribution. “We unloaded the palettes of garbage bags and people started crying,” recalled Leasure noting that a truckload of soap and toilet paper was greeted with cheers. Meanwhile, the Foundation for the Ohio Credit Union League twice extended $5,000 grants to victims of the Marietta flooding. The first $5,000 grant was approved by trustees Sept. 20, and five days later another $5,000 was okayed. Sue Helmreich, manager of outreach for the League, said the Foundation had previously given $2,500 to Hurricane Frances victims in Florida “and we had made another contribution to flooding in the Lisbon area near Youngstown.” “We’ve given $16,000 in disaster relief in the last month which is pretty significant given a foundation our size,” said Helmreich. One of the messier jobs for Ohio Valley, said Helmreich, was cleaning up a safe that was five-and-a-half feet under water. “I understand the staff spent hours washing money which had been in sewer river water – that’s pretty disgusting,” Elsewhere, the Oklahoma Credit Union League Foundation said it was extending $2,000 to Florida to help CU “employees and volunteers who have been affected by this storm.” The Oklahoma League said it was acting in a reciprocity move since other leagues had previously contributed disaster relief following destructive Oklahoma City tornadoes last spring. [email protected]

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