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Mount St. Helens has been causing a stir in recent weeks when it expelled clouds of steam and ash, but no credit unions are in any immediate danger.

The volcano, which erupted violently in May 1980, is in southwest Washington state, about 90 miles from Seattle and 65 miles from Portland, Ore. Officials at the Washington Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Oregon said no credit unions in either state are in planned evacuation zones or otherwise in harm's way.

During one recent ash eruption, the wind was blowing toward Yakima, about 200 miles east of Mount St. Helens. Paul Regimbal, president of Catholic Credit Union here said the ash was not noticeable. "We've not been affected by the St. Helens eruption at all. We are in no danger."

Regimbal, who also serves as the treasurer for the Washington CU League, still recalls events of 24 years ago when the city was directly in the path of the giant ash cloud that blanketed much of the Pacific Northwest.

"Back in 1980 when St. Helens erupted, they closed down all of Yakima for ash clean up," he recalled. "We were in the dark for 18 hours. We didn't lose power, but the skies turned black. It was pitch black dark because of the ash clouds. For the week after that, all the businesses in Yakima were closed. We cleaned off all of our buildings and trucks and bulldozers drove the ash away."

John Annaloro, president and CEO of the Washington CU League, said: "Our thoughts are really with the credit unions and people in Florida. We are encouraging our credit unions to continue sending contributions to the National Disaster Relief Fund."

The WCUL made a contribution to the National Disaster Relief Fund earlier this month, Annaloro added.

Amy Drew, director of communications for the CU Association of Oregon, said no credit unions in her state are near the volcano.

"If another 1980 eruption happens, credit unions would be affected just like any other business, but there are no evacuations at this time."

The office of the CUAO is in Beaverton, Ore., 11 miles southwest of Portland. The Portland area received a covering of several inches of ash in the 1980 eruption, Drew said.

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