More Florida Credit Unions Open Doors
The League of Southeastern Credit Unions said Wednesday about two-thirds of the Florida’s 136 credit unions were affected by Hurricane Irma and approximately 80 credit unions reported they have reopened for business, up from about 35 on Tuesday.
However, among several credit unions that said they reopened their doors, they also reported some of their branches remained closed Wednesday because of power outages.
According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, about 3.5 million homes and businesses were without power as of Wednesday at 3 p.m. Most of the power outages are concentrated in eight counties in southwestern Florida, including Highlands, Hardee, Glades, Lee, Okeechobee, Hendry, Collier and Monroe, which includes the Keys. In those counties, 60% to 100% of homes and businesses do not have power, the FDEM’s power outage data showed.
However, in an additional six counties in northern Florida – Suwannee, Lafayette, Bradford, Union, Baker and Putnam – more than 50% of homes and businesses still had no power as of Wednesday afternoon.
“The number one issue seems to be lack of power and internet [service] to many branches,” Kim Gay, LSCU’s director of communications, said. “Another issue is that roads to branches in some areas such as Jacksonville have been blocked due to flooding, making it difficult for employees to get to work.”
Despite these difficult circumstances, many credit unions are finding ways to serve their members by using generators and partnerships with other credit unions, she noted. Credit unions throughout the state that have power and internet have offered to help in various ways.
“Many have limited staff available and are performing transactions off-line,” Gay said. “In the spirit of ‘people helping people’ many are offering low-interest disaster relief loans and waiving fees to provide immediate relief for their members during this time of need.”
LSCU is continuing to reach out daily to credit unions and assessing their needs. Credit unions are asked to provide status updates by going to LSCU’s website or email CUStatus@lscu.coop.
“The LSCU is now working closely with CUNA and other partners to meet the needs of our credit unions, staff and board members,” LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine said. “It is critical that we learn as quickly as possible of the needs in order to assist our credit unions and expedite recovery.”
The Southeastern Credit Union Foundation is ready to assist members and volunteers with disaster relief grants. For more information about the grants or to make a donation, please visit lscu.coop/foundation.
In addition, a new call center service to help members was launched by CUNA, PSCU and CO-OP Financial Services. The call center is helping credit unions get information to their members. Call center operators are monitoring websites and receiving updates from LSCU to assist members with information about the operating status of their credit union, ATM and shared branch locations, and other important information.