Credit unions reopening slowly as Anchorage cleans up after earthquake

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Credit unions in and around Anchorage, Alaska are beginning to reopen their doors following a 7.0 earthquake Friday, though some institutions with locations near Eagle River, Alaska remain closed.

Denali Federal Credit Union, a division of $2.2 billion-asset Nuvision Credit Union, Huntington Beach, Calif., on Monday released a statement saying it had resumed full operations in all but one location after closing offices and ATMs Friday because of the earthquake early that morning. In Alaska, Denali FCU operates 14 offices and 20 ATMs in Anchorage, Eagle River, Fairbanks, Juneau, Kenai and Wasilla.

The credit union said its branch inside the Carrs grocery store in Eagle River was unable to reopen after the branch and the store suffered “enough damage in the earthquake to remain closed.”

A spokesperson for Denali FCU told Credit Union Journal the branch inside the store sustained “only minor damage.” The spokesperson added Denali network equipment at the location did not yet have communication as of Monday afternoon, Alaska Time, but the credit union’s IT team was working to restore full functions.

“If Carrs [the grocery store itself] was open, the branch would be open,” the spokesperson said. “The store manager said the store only has water on one side of the building, no refrigeration, and there are still electrical issues being worked on. The store is expected to open either on Wednesday or Thursday.”

Denali FCU said in a statement there has been no disruption to online or mobile banking operations, meaning members had the ability to access their accounts if they had Internet or mobile data availability. The CU’s call center also reopened Monday after closing over the weekend.

“The Denali team has done a remarkable job to assess the damages, determine that structures are sound and assure that team members can physically get to their locations,” said Nuvision CEO Roger Ballard, who traveled to Anchorage over the weekend to provide support. “This was a significant team effort and we appreciate all that has been done to ensure that the credit union will be open to assist our members.”

Reopening gradually

Credit Union 1, a $1 billion-asset institution based in Anchorage, Alaska, said its branch in Eagle River was partially open on Monday – for drive-up services only. CU1 executives expressed hope to have the branch fully functional “in the next day or two.”

The CU on Monday issued a statement from James Wileman, its president and CEO, which said in part CU1 is “extremely thankful” no one was seriously injured after the earthquake, either at the credit union or statewide.

“After the earthquake happened, we sent our employees in Anchorage, Eagle River and Soldotna home for the day and closed our branches in those locations,” Wileman said. “We did not have any damage to our systems, so all accounts were safe and functioning normally, however, there was some cosmetic damage to our facilities. After doing a thorough inspection of our branches, we reopened all locations for normal Saturday hours on Dec. 1, with the exception of our Eagle River branch, which was closer to the earthquake epicenter and needed more cleanup.”

According to Wileman, CU1 “withstood this event well and was able to spring into action to get our locations opened the next day to serve our members thanks to the extreme efforts of our employees.”

“Even though we closed on Friday, we had several employees voluntarily stay to help with cleanup and repairs,” he said. “Without their hard work, we would not have been able to open our locations up so quickly. We also are very grateful to the State of Alaska, which does a stellar job with continual earthquake training and drills – one of which we participated in as an organization less than two months ago. Because of these drills, our employees all knew exactly what to do when the earthquake hit to keep themselves and others safe.”

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, a $7.5 billion-asset institution headquartered in Anchorage, posted the two “earthquake updates” on its Facebook page over the weekend. On Friday evening the credit union said all of its Anchorage and MatSu Valley branches, and the North Eagle River Branch (inside Fred Meyer) would reopen with regular business hours on Dec. 1, and an email from the credi union on Tuesday, Dec. 4 indicated all branches and offices were currently open and operational.

This story was updated at 4:54 P.M. on Dec. 4.

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Natural disasters Disaster recovery Crisis Management Business continuity Alaska