The LSCU has been working with the Southeast Disaster Coordinating Council (SDCC), which is made up of representatives from NCUA, ACUA, CO-OP Financial Services, Corporate One, Corporate America, CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, CU Service Centers of Alabama, the Foundation, PSCU Shared Services for Credit Unions, and the SECUF to establish a network of partners to provide coordinated resources in times like these.
The SDCC continues to meet daily via conference call to coordinate responses and plan next steps toward restoration and recovery. Donations are needed now more than ever to help our credit union family get back on their feet and resume some type of normalcy. Please give at https://www.lscu.coop/
One of the greatest needs that has been identified is for housing, and the LSCU has been seeking available rentals for those in need. We have created a resource for those looking for available properties to rent at their own expense in the Panama City Beach area. A VRBO bulletin has been created with properties ranging from under $100 per night to three-bedroom rentals. It will be updated once daily. In our search for resources, we realize one challenge is that properties are renting quickly.
For those who click to reserve a property, mention that you are displaced due to Hurricane Michael. Some hosts are open to negotiating lower rates in such cases. FEMA is also offering temporary housing in some cases. Click below for details.
LSCU takes action to provide hurricane relief
The LSCU’s Tallahassee office was running with only about half of its staff on Friday due to Hurricane Michael, but members of the SDCC were able to make contact with Bay Credit Union, Innovations Federal Credit Union, Panhandle Educators Federal Credit Union, and Tyndall Federal Credit Union, four Panama City-based credit unions. The League has also been in contact with others in the impacted region, including Calhoun-Liberty Employees Credit Union, Community South Credit Union, Emerald Coast Federal Credit Union, and Jackson County Teachers Credit Union.
The severity of the challenge in reaching credit unions to assess their situations was exacerbated by the extent of the damage and by downed cellular towers, rendering Verizon Wireless virtually incapacitated and limiting other cellular carriers. This has created a tremendous challenge for credit unions checking on the welfare of their employees, as well.
The SDCC, created last year in the wake of the hurricane damage to create a network ready to assist, has worked closely with other credit unions to find the best ways to provide aid. Teams met via conference call and with working groups at the LSCU’s headquarters in Tallahassee, which was not damaged by the storm.
Lisa Brown from Tallahassee-Leon Federal Credit Union was also part of this group that sent two caravans of CU relief to Panama City over the weekend. Lisa, through her law enforcement contacts, secured safe passage through the damaged areas and has served as our EOC liaison.
On Saturday, the group sent several large generators capable of powering an entire branch to credit unions in need, along with electricians ready to install the units. Staff communicated via satellite phone to ensure reliable communication during the journey to the impacted zone. On Sunday, a second group delivered 30 5,500-watt generators and other supplies aimed at helping credit union staff.
The CU motto of People Helping People has been highly visible these last few days. The League and council members are continuing to reach out for updates on operational and staff needs to get as many branches up and running as soon as possible. They have divided up efforts focusing on providing power, communication, fuel, tarps, mobile branches, and security.
Juli Lewis, director, Southeastern Credit Union Foundation, is currently in Panama City meeting with the impacted credit unions and their teams to provide grant applications and support for those credit union staff and volunteers who have been hit hard. Another team will be heading out tomorrow from the LSCU with supplies and support.
The best way to assist currently is to give to the SECUF. We realize that those who have been in the path of this devastation will be dealing with it for a very long time, and we urge all of our credit union family to give in this time of need.