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GULFPORT, Miss.-Credit unions’ efforts to restore services to those hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina are “outstanding,” NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson said after visiting three credit unions ravaged by Hurricane Katrina on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. The chairman visited $48 million Gulf Coast Community Federal Credit Union, $1 billion Keesler Federal Credit Union, and $111 million Singing River Federal Credit Union, all of which suffered building loss or damage. “I’ve witnessed tornado destruction and also severe flooding in the Midwest, but the devastation I witnessed in the Gulf region was the combination of the two, magnified,” she said. Johnson continued, “The uprooted trees and destroyed homes and buildings went on for miles. The coverage on television doesn’t begin to show the magnitude of the rebuilding effort that will be necessary. “In contrast, the spirit and determination were remarkable.” She highlighted the Mississippi Credit Union Association’s efforts to collect and deliver basic household goods for credit union staff and their families. “In catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, access to financial services is a vital part of the recovery effort,” she said, noting that more than 200,000 members in the region depend on their credit unions. Johnson continued, “When you have credit union staff who have lost homes, are residing in a shelter, or in need of the basics to keep their family going, and their top priority is to get their credit union up and going again to help their members, it speaks to the tremendous spirit of the credit union community.” NCUA is working with the impacted credit unions, she said. “In catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, access to financial services is a vital part of the recovery effort.” She noted that credit unions are serving their communities with special check-cashing services and lending considerations. Johnson also encouraged credit unions to consider joining a shared branching network, “because many of the credit unions that were able to regain operations and serve their members, were able to do so through shared branching.” She concluded, “America’s credit unions have done so much to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. I encourage that spirit of volunteerism and value the good work of the credit union community across the nation.”

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