Severe flooding has impacted eastern Kentucky since late July. The damage hit home for the Kentucky Credit Union League (KCUL), as credit union members and communities were impacted directly by the flooding, which destroyed homes and killed at least 39 people, according to Governor Andy Beshear.
“The situation in eastern Kentucky is dire,” KCUL President Debbie Painter says. “There are people living in tents or on their porches because their homes were destroyed or are uninhabitable until massive cleanup is done.”
Two KCUL credit unions are located in the flooded areas. One escaped with no damage, while the other had six feet of standing water, damaging all physical documents. Members of both credit unions were impacted, however, and the league wanted to help those communities.
Recalling the generosity that Kentuckians exhibited in the wake of the severe tornadoes that hit Kentucky in late 2021, league staff decided to collect gift cards for families impacted by the flooding. The idea came about days before the league’s annual meeting, which was held from Aug. 8-10 in Louisville. The league contacted all credit union CEOs, convention attendees, and exhibitors.
“A gift card would allow a family to purchase their immediate needs without having to worry about where to store items until they got on their feet,” Painter says. “In two days, credit unions and vendors contributed $5,470 in cash and gift cards. We threw this together at the last minute but, as usual, our credit unions stepped up.”
The donations were divided equally between the two impacted credit unions and each received $2,735.
The aid didn’t stop there. While Painter hadn’t heard from every credit union by mid-August, she estimates that Kentucky credit unions contributed at least $127,370 toward the flood recovery efforts—through direct monetary and supply donations, potential member donations, and matching dollar programs.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Painter says of why the league and credit unions provide aid when tragedy hits their community. “Our industry is one of the most giving, serving industries ever. When something happens to a credit union, their members, or community, it’s like it happened to one of our family members. Credit union employees and volunteers have a genuine love for the people and the communities they serve. Our league, board, and staff have that same genuine love for our credit unions.”