Relief Efforts Sprout In Wake OfKatrina

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NEW ORLEANS - (09/01/05) -- As millions of area residentssearched for loved ones and assessed the damage to their homesWednesday the credit union movement began mobilizing relief effortsto aid employees and members along the Gulf Coast battered byHurricane Katrina. "Hurricane Katrina is a disaster of epicproportion that has affected millions of Americans, including ourcredit union partners and their members," said Jeff Post, presidentand CEO of CUNA Mutual, which pledged $150,000 to the reliefefforts being organized by the National CU Foundation. PennsylvaniaState Employees CU pledged $250,000, and offers were rolling infrom the credit union community all across the nation. TexAr FCUwas paying for dinners for evacuees of the storm. Ascension CU,Members Co-Operative CU, Virginia CU and GTE FCU were allcollecting funds to help relieve the suffering from what expertswere saying was the worst damage caused in the U.S. by a hurricanein a century. Claims adjusters from CUNA Mutual Group, which covershundreds of credit unions throughout the region, began Wednesday tofan out assess the damage from Hurricane Katrina, but the samecommunications and access problems affecting the storm's victimsare also making it tough for the insurance company to compile acomprehensive damage report. CUNA Mutual Group estimates there areseveral hundred credit unions in the areas ravaged by Katrina,that's only counting main branches. Many credit unions were able tomaintain some operations after evacuating before the storm hit. UNOFCU of New Orleans, set up shop in Birmingham, Ala. AMOCO FCU isoperating out of the Louisiana CU League's Baton Rouge servicecenter. Dozens of credit unions were able to maintain operationsvia their shared branching connections. "This is where the sharedbranching network is really coming into play," Anne Corchran,president of the Louisiana league, told The Credit Union Journal."Credit unions that are part of the shared branching network set upoffline limits for members in case their systems ever went down, sopeople who have evacuated to other parts of the state or even toTexas and Florida and other areas still have access through theshared service centers."

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