LSCU Hurricane Michael recovery efforts were our focus last week after north Florida, southern Alabama, and Georgia endured the first Category 4 hurricane in many years. Our recovery efforts began with assessing damage to help credit unions get back up and running as quickly as possible. As power and communications are being restored to some limited areas, operational needs are becoming secondary to meeting personal needs of credit union staff and volunteers by providing grants made available through the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation.

Several teams went out last week with supplies such as pre-paid phones with hot spots, tarps, fuel and oil for generators, water, and power cords. The LSCU & Affiliates put together this Storm Resource Guide for folks impacted by the storm as information was difficult to access for those in the hardest hit areas.

Every morning started with an internal meeting in our Tallahassee office Hurricane Michael “War Room” to review outstanding requests from CUs and to plan the day ahead.  We then moved to a conference call with the Southeast Disaster Coordinating Council (SDCC) which is comprised of representatives from NCUA, ACUA, CO-OP Financial Services, Corporate One FCU, Corporate America CU, CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, CU Service Centers of Alabama, the Foundation, PSCU, Shared Services for Credit Unions, and the SECUF. Many thanks to this collaborative effort and to these partners for their generous help providing much needed supplies and donations.

Also, many thanks to Pen Air FCU for providing Innovations FCU with its mobile branch and to Suncoast CU, which deployed its mobile unit to Bay CU. Additionally, America’s First FCU supplied Tyndall FCU with a mobile branch, and the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation’s unit is in the process of being deployed. Additionally, Harvesters FCU provided an RV for use by impacted credit unions and/or their employees.

Pre-paid phones with mobile hotspots (AT&T network) were the most sought-after items since all communication channels were significantly impaired.  We delivered almost 40 phones at the beginning of the week, and VyStar CU followed up with another 25, which were delivered on Friday.

Corporate One, Corporate America and Route 66 have also provided generators and other supplies, many of which they delivered themselves to the disaster zone.

The incredible efforts and coordination of resources, supplies, and donations has exemplified the cooperative spirit that sets our movement apart. Since the storm hit, we had teams on the ground in the affected areas on six separate occasions, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.  Members of staff have been reaching out to others in the aftermath of the storm to get status updates, provide support, and “marry” those with resources to those with matching needs.

The League is currently working with credit unions to try to locate temporary housing for employees who lost their homes in the storm, some of whom were even reported to be living out of their vehicles for several days.

Juli Lewis, director of the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation, visited the impacted credit unions to help affected folks complete grant applications. Without power or effective communication channels, Juli has been taking grant applications both in person and over the phone.

We will continue to assist in coordinating resources for these folks and appreciate the tremendous support from our credit union family. This recovery effort could go on for months and even years. To those who have already donated to this incredible cause, thank you for all you have done.

We have also begun working with state and federal regulators to arrange a webinar with impacted CUs to discuss what to expect from a default/delinquency standpoint as well as what examiners will be looking for in the months (and possibly years) to come.  We are also working to identify best practices regarding collections in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Donations to the SECUF Hurricane Michael relief effort can be made by clicking here.