NEW ORLEANS – Credit unions throughout the Gulf Coast region are beginning to assess the damage in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, but flooding remains a major concern in Louisiana, which is taking the brunt of the storm.
Similarly, in Mississippi, many credit unions have yet to return to their branches to assess any damage.
In Mississippi, many residents of Pike County have been ordered to evacuate due to instability in the dam at Lake Tangipahoa. The area is home to a number of credit unions, including Pike County Teachers FCU and McComb FCU.
Meanwhile, more than 20 credit unions throughout the Bayou State remained closed on Thursday, as the storm began to break up and move northward. But Connie Major, EVP at the Louisiana CU League, told Credit Union Journal heavy winds and rain are still a possibility further north. “We’re still to expect another three to six inches of rain, possibly with tornadoes forming off of them. It’s still very cloudy over New Orleans, Baton Rouge and on into the Alexandria area,” she said.
While many CUs were dealing with water damage as a result of flooding or roof damage, Major said no significant structural damage had been reported. But she quickly noted because the league has not yet heard from all CUs, there was still the possibility that major damage could be reported.
Strong winds and tornadoes still pose a threat to the state’s credit unions, but Major noted many are breathing easier now with the most widespread threat having passed. The major question now, she said, is how much longer until floodwaters begin to recede.
At New Orleans Fireman’s FCU, all of its branches remain closed, but COO Cami Crouchet said it hoped to open one branch by noon on Thursday. “Everybody else is without power,” said Crouchet, who had decamped from NOLA to an area near Birmingham, Ala., to ride out the storm. “We have one other location with power, but the floodwaters are rising and we’re afraid staff may be able to get to the branch, but not be able to leave once they get there because of rising water.”
Crouchet said floodwaters were expected to begin receding by today and that power should largely be restored by then, too. However, power restoration crews’ efforts have been stymied by high winds. The crews cannot work if winds are above 30 miles per hour, she said.
In Mississippi, some CUs have reported water damage to their buildings (either from rising waters or roof damage), but Mississippi CU Association President Charles Elliott said no major damage has been reported yet. But he indicated more damage was still possible, as many CU employees have not yet been able to get to their branches to assess the damage because of flooded roadways, especially in areas near the coast.
“Since this is such a slow moving storm with bands of varying intensity scattered across most of our state,” he said, “current and forecasted conditions are still fluid until the storm moves out.”
Mike Bridges, VP of marketing and communication for the League of Southeastern CUs, said CUs throughout the Florida panhandle and Alabama were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for the storm, but as of Thursday morning all appeared to have reopened and none had reported damage.