Credit Unions Moving To Higher Ground In North Dakota
MINOT, N.D. – As record floodwaters head this way, one credit union closed its office and others are moving to higher ground, including inside the facilities of other credit unions. At least one CEO is preparing to likely lose her home.
The real issue affecting credit unions from the flood – beyond facilities-related problems – is the turmoil created from the evacuation of 11,000 townspeople, about 25% of population, according to Jeff Olson, VP of advocacy and awareness for the Mid-America CU Association in Bismarck, N.D. “There are a couple evacuation centers in Minot attempting to alleviate the problem of residents trying to find motels, hotels, or room with family or friends,” Olson said.
The league has established an Emergency Needs Fund for displaced credit union staff and family so they can find places to stay in Bismarck, located 100 miles south of Minot. There is good reason for the large population displacement, as the release of water from the Lake Darling Dam and more water coming behind it from Canada are expected to swell the Souris River well over Minot’s levees, to nine feet above the 1969 flood that set a record above the city’s all-time record flood of 1881.
Olson said many of the credit unions were working with skeleton crews, allowing employees time off to evacuate and relocate.
Meanwhile, Cassia Dahl, CEO of G.E.M. FCU, expects to lose her home due to the expected high flood waters. Stacey Wald, G.E.M. VP, told Credit Union Journal she and other employees were leaving to help the CEO move. Also in the flood plain is the $16-million G.E.M.’s one office, which the CEO told the league she expects will be lost to high waters. Wald said the building has been gutted of all essential items, furnishings, and equipment. G.E.M. has set up at nearby Ascentia FCU in Minot.