Nearly 90 Florida CUs Close Ahead of Hurricane Irma
As Hurricane Irma barrels toward Florida, nearly 90 of the state’s 136 credit unions closed up shop early Friday or Saturday and virtually all of them will be shut down on Monday.
The CU Times reviewed 124 Florida credit union websites Friday night to determine the number of credit union closures. A dozen credit unions do not operate a websites and other credit unions did not post any closure announcements.
While Key West’s three credit unions have been closed since Wednesday because of a mandatory evacuation, several credit unions decided to close up shop on Thursday.
However, a few credit unions continued to operate on Friday and Saturday, and a few credit unions located in Florida’s Panhandle, told members through their sites and Facebook pages that they were monitoring the storm to determine whether they would be forced to close on Monday.
The projected shift of the hurricane’s path from Florida’s east coast to west coast was reported by weather officials Saturday, threatening a direct hit on the Key West area early Sunday morning. The storm is then expected to move north toward Naples, Fort Myers, Tampa, and the Panhandle region, including Tallahassee, the state’s capitol.
The offices of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions in Tallahassee will be closed on Monday as well. The league said it has back up staff and servers in its Birmingham, Ala., offices ready to go if needed.
The league said it will post credit union status updates and other information on its website. The league’s site also lists a variety of resources to assist credit unions before, during and after the storm. And a 24/7 disaster hotline has been set up for credit union employees to call for updates when primary communication is down as the storm is expected to cause widespread power outages.
While many credit unions said they hope to reopen on Tuesday, at least one credit union, Achieva CU in Dunedin, has already announced it will be closed on Tuesday. Other credit unions would only say they will reopen when it is safe to do so.
Meanwhile, CUNA Mutual Group Spokesperson Wendy Serafin said the Madison, Wis.-based organization has extended the activation of its disaster response team following Tropical Storm Harvey. CMG processed approximately 75 credit union insurance claims last week.
“We started prepping for Hurricane Irma several days ago and have reached out to credit unions in Florida via phone and email communications,” she said. “We are working closely with the league and our sales partners to ensure a swift response to Irma. Our vendors have committed and have already deployed teams around Florida and areas in Georgia and Louisiana. It is still too early to tell exactly where the impact might occur, or the hardest hit areas, but we are focusing on Florida and will look to include Georgia and the Carolinas depending on the track.”
Christopher Morris, director of communications for the National Credit Union Foundation, said the organization is prepared to work with the Southeastern league to support victims of Hurricane Irma.
The Foundation in collaboration with the Cornerstone Credit Union have raised more than $1 million to aid credit union employees and volunteers victimized by Tropical Storm Harvey that ravaged southeastern Texas and Houston. Cornerstone has distributed 515 grants to flood victims whose homes and cars were damaged or destroyed.