NEW YORK – Credit unions around the county were reaching out over the weekend to needy members and employees, donating emergency aid for Hurricane Sandy relief and doing what they do best--offering special loans to begin the rebuilding after last week’s devastating storm.
"Hurricane Sandy was a forceful storm that requires a forceful response," said Mark Welshoff, president of New York’s Palisades FCU, which has slashed signature loans rate by 50% and promised a 24-hour approval for emergency needs like replacing spoiled food, purchasing a generator, paying for a tree service for removing a fallen tree to making up for lost pay during the storm. The $160 million credit union is also reimbursing members for ATM fees incurred for using any ATM.
Bethpage FCU, on hard-hit Long Island, New York, is waiving late fees on loan payments and insufficient fund fees on deposit accounts and also has pledged $50,000 in matching hurricane relief to the United Way. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to help our community get through this difficult time,” Kirk Kordeleski, president of the region’s biggest credit union, told members in a letter this weekend. “If you have been seriously impacted by the storm, we will quickly review new loan applications and requests to modify existing loans.”
Credit unions from far and wide are reaching out to wounded members.
State Employees CU of Maryland is offering a Hurricane and Flood Relief Loan up to $10,000 for its members who sustained damage to their home, car or other property. The loan comes with an annual percentage rate as low as 5.99% and is good for up to 60 months.
Florida’s Keys FCU, was calling almost 300 members who live in the Northeast to ascertain their special needs. Roswell, New Mexico’s Florist FCU is offering special loans to Connecticut members up to $10,000 for temporary capital needs, inventory replacement, payroll and cleanup costs. Pennsylvania’s Freedom FCU committed $2 million in low-rate relief loans up to 18 months in maturity.
New Jersey’s largest credit union Affinity FCU is offering an Emergency Recovery Loan at 3% for up to $2,500.
University of Wisconsin CU, far from the hurricane’s path, said it is offering repayment extensions for 3,600 members in the affected areas, amounting to up to three months of loan extension at no charge, and a waiver of late fees on loans and credit cards.
The National CU Foundation had raised almost $100,000 in short order for its CUAid, which will be dispersed in amounts up to $1,500 to needy credit union members, employees or volunteers for losses not covered by insurance.
NCUA began dispensing grants up to $7,500 under its Urgent Needs Initiative to help return storm-damaged credit unions to operability. New York University FCU was the first recipient and will use the money to replace destroyed laptop computers and obtain Internet access to restore member service. NCUA, which reported that 118 credit unions in six states were not operational, closed or had a pending status, said it has also expanded the agency’s consumer assistance hotline to answer financial questions related to the emergency.
“NCUA is doing its part to assist credit unions and their members in the wake of Hurricane Sandy,” said NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz. “Our examiners along the East Coast are checking with their credit unions to provide support and assistance; our consumer experts are answering the many financial questions that members may have; and we’re expediting consideration of credit union emergency grant applications. NCUA will continue to do what’s needed to help.”
Credit unions all over the country were collecting financial contributions to help the recovery. California’s Coast Central CU has teamed with the American Red Cross for a “Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund” and are asking the public to visit any Coast Central branch to donate funds, which will be used in ongoing efforts to provide shelter, food, and services for people in multiple states.