CU's Disaster Plan Leads To Kit For Community

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Helping raise funds for victims of one disaster, Hurricane Katrina, led one credit union here to review its own disaster plan, which in turn led to disaster planning assistance for members themselves.

As First City Credit Union was collecting $4,000 in donations for Hurricane Katrina relief and the American Red Cross, the credit union itself, its members and employees employees took a minor hit of their own when a four-hour blackout struck the City of Angels. Located west of the San Andreas Fault, the credit union has always been aware of the need to be ready.

"It kind of underscored the need to be prepared," said First City CU Director of Corporate Communications Tom Thompson. "Unlike a hurricane, we don't get any warning."

While reviewing its own disaster plan, First City CU decided to assemble small packets of emergency preparedness information to be distributed to its own employees. Employees loved the information and suggested making them available to members, and the credit union responded by creating a Disaster Preparedness Information Kit that is available not just to members but all local residents.

The kit includes the following: a checklist of items needed during any type of disaster, an emergency contact list (see below for details) that included local media outlets, federal agencies plus local fire, police and rescue units. First City CU recommends having cash in hand, at least one credit card and important documents such as insurance policies, social security cards and birth and death certificates.

"It's a pretty extensive little kit," he said.

Thompson said First City CU also recommends a Family Medical Contact list, an escape route, and how to determine meeting places as part of each member household disaster plan. The local American Red Cross chapter is located nearby First City CU and provided eight pages of official disaster information to the credit union.

"They were great, they were fantastic," he said.

Thompson said the disaster kits were prepared by First City CU employees at minimal cost with the marketing department and call center staff pitching in to help collate the material for 100 kits. Thompson said the kits were split between two branches with one branch quickly running out while the other has plenty left over. Thompson noted Los Angeles is a wildly diverse community, which makes it difficult to predict how many kits would be needed or how they would be received by the public. First City CU has 41,000 members with $345 million in assets.

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