The League of Southeastern Credit Unions continues to work with a core group of 8 to 9 credit unions working in various stages of recovery following the devastation of Hurricane Michael.
The LSCU team and a group of credit union partners are operating from a “war room” in its Tallahassee, Fla., office, according to President/CEO Patrick La Pine, making trips daily to the area affected by the hurricane.
“We’re constantly checking on their status and checking on their individual needs,” La Pine said. “We put together a game plan every day based on conference calls and face to face meetings.
La Pine said he first order of business was reestablishing power after the storm. He said the league and its foundation purchased and provided generators and Florida credit unions helped out other credit unions in need.
Next was restoring communications. With only one cell network in operation, La Pine said credit unions have virtually bought out all “burner” phones in the Tallahassee area and loaded them with unlimited minutes.
“One thing we’re learning is that you think you have a plan, but what if every form of communication—land line, cell, Internet—go down?” La Pine said. “How do you communicate with your staff?”
La Pine said burner phones are virtual “gold” at the current time.
Credit unions are now requesting mobile branch services, La Pine said. He said the league, its foundation and other credit unions are “marrying up” available mobile branches where they are needed.
The next priority is finding housing for credit union employees. “That’s a tricky one to deal with,” La Pine said. “To find them housing where they can still commute to work is hard to find, in large part because so many people are looking for potential housing options. We’re looking at condos, hotels and apartments.”
La Pine said the league and its member credit unions “are basically just asking credit unions, ‘What can we do for you? We’re just here to provide relief where we can.”