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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Consider it being in the right place at the right time. When Hurricane Katrina leveled Jackson County Employees FCU, Pascagoula, Miss., manager Lora Michael phoned Carolinas Telco FCU’s Chief Operations Officer Bill Flowers about borrowing their mobile branch. The credit union was destroyed by Katrina on Aug. 29th, and after being closed several days reopened operating out of the back of a pickup truck. There was no problem with using the mobile branch, said Flowers except there was nobody to drive what is actually a 34-foot recreational vehicle, the 675 miles to Mississippi. Flowers got in touch with the North Carolina Credit Union League just as Staff Auditor Patricia English walked by. A native of Brandon, Miss., English quickly volunteered to drive the vehicle and got it to Mississippi in 12 hours after driving through the night. Needless to say that was no small feat. English drove to Charlotte, N.C. Sept. 9 to pick up the mobile branch at Carolinas Telco FCU. She left Charlotte with the mobile branch around 6 p.m. and arrived in Jackson the morning of Sept. 10 around 5 a.m. having stopped only once for gas. There she was met by Mississippi Credit Union Association President/CEO Charles Elliot and VP Sonny Green who drove it to Pascagoula because they had a required code in effect that showed they had business there and weren’t just “outsiders.” “I was on a mission,” she said. “I didn’t even ask before I left where the gas tank was, so when I stopped for gas the guy at the service station had to help me out.” “I had driven a motor home before, but not for 12 hours,” she added. The mobile branch – aka recreational vehicle – is enhanced to function as a temporary branch location. Carolinas Telco put the vehicle up for sale earlier this year because of the growing popularity of Internet banking. The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation is underwriting all the costs associated with transporting and operating the mobile branch. After dropping off the mobile branch and before heading back to North Carolina, English visited with her daughter in the Jackson area which also took a hard hit from the storm. Unfortunately, even on her plane trip home, English had to contend with the effects of a hurricane. On her flight to North Carolina via Fort Lauderdale, Fla., up the southeast coast, English had to deal with air turbulence from Hurricane Ophelia. -

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