ROSWELL, N.M., and FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/29/15)--A wild combination of winter storms has ravaged much of the South and Southwest in recent days, with blizzard conditions, flooding and even tornadoes sprawling from New Mexico to Georgia.
Parts of New Mexico were blanketed in as much as 16 inches of snow with reports of 8-foot-high snow drifts. Many financial institutions in the Roswell, N.M., area were closed Monday, but one small credit union managed to open.
The Florist FCU, with $8 million in assets, serves flower shops across the country, and because many of its members aren’t located in Roswell, they likely were insulated from the effects of the storm.
That was unless Kenn Bell, president/CEO and one of the credit union’s three employees, hadn’t made it to work Monday.
“The post office is mostly shut down, some people were able to get in and shovel the sidewalks,” Bell told News Now. “You can’t get in parking lots. Cars can’t get down the road. Trucks are only clearing the main roads, and even that is just piling up stuff on the sides.”
Despite the conditions, Bell ventured out in his pickup truck into Roswell Monday morning, picked up the credit union’s operations staff member--who was blocked into her house by a 6-foot-high snow drift--almost got stuck in the road, but made it to the credit union for work.
Once at the office, which was buried under feet of snow itself, the credit union was able to send a broadcast email to members and process electronic funds transfers as normal.
“Having members all over the country, that’s part of the reason we felt we needed to be here,” Bell said. “Our members across the country expected us to be here.”
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency in response to the storms, as did Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.
Missouri is dealing with heavy rain and flooding conditions, which were expected to last through Monday.
Three tornadoes ripped through the Dallas area over the weekend, killing 11 people and damaging hundreds of buildings (CNN.com Dec. 27). Gov. Greg Abbott subsequently declared a disaster in four Dallas-area counties as well.
In response, the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation said Monday that it’s ready to help any credit unions and their employees affected by the storms through its disaster relief program.
The program provides emergency grants to employees with immediate disaster relief needs, such as out-of-pocket costs that result from being evacuated from their homes. It also provides long-term funding needs for more catastrophic cases.
“In times of crisis, the foundation is here to help our credit unions and their staffs get back on their feet, so that they in turn can be there for their members,” said Courtney Moran, foundation executive director (Leaguer Dec. 28).
Cleanup of the Dallas communities hit by the tornadoes might be made more perilous in the coming days as freezing weather and blizzard conditions set in.