California CUs once again battle wildfires

California CUs once again battle wildfires 

November 14, 2018

Once again credit unions, their members, and staff are dealing with the impact of another round of devastating fires in both Southern and Northern California, the California and Nevada Credit Union League reports. 

The Camp Fire in Butte County—which started on Thursday, Nov. 8—has now become the deadliest fire in California history, killing at least 42 people. It also has burned more than 125,000 acres, destroyed more than 6,700 homes and commercial buildings, and decimated the town of Paradise. More than 200 people remain missing. It is only 30% contained. 

Both the Woolsey Fire (in Los Angeles County) and the Hill Fire (in Ventura County) also started on Nov. 8. The Woolsey Fire continues to be the biggest threat as it burns in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. It has charred more than 96,000 acres and is 35 percent contained. Two people have been killed and 435 structures have been destroyed. The Hill Fire is now 75 percent contained and has burned more than 4,500 acres. 

Several credit unions experienced temporary branch closures due to the three fires. CBC CU CEO Patrick Miller said with the help of the credit union's BCP plan, the fires had a minimal impact on operations. The Thousand Oaks and Pt. Mugu branches were closed Friday because of smoke and poor air quality, but all of the credit union's branches are open today. Only a few credit union branches remain closed today, including Sierra Central CU’s Paradise branch and CoastHills CU’s Thousand Oaks branch. 

In addition, several credit unions are offering to assist their members affected by the fires, including Golden 1 CU and Members 1st CU. The latter is providing special financial assistance and loan programs for those directly impacted by the Camp Fire. It serves nearly 4,000 members in the cities of Paradise and Magalia. 

“We’re aware of many members that have been directly impacted by the Camp Fire with more contacting us each day,” said Members 1st CU CEO Teri Vanderpol. “Our staff is ready to serve our community and help our members recover from this tragedy.” 

CUNA Mutual Group has activated its Customer Disaster Response Team. Credit unions can reach out to their sales representative for assistance or visit CUNA Mutual’s Disaster Recovery page

The National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) is working closely with staff at the California and Nevada Credit Union League to direct disaster relief funds to credit union people affected by wildfires in Northern and Southern California. 

Donations to the Foundation’s General Disaster Relief Fund are being used for any credit union employees and volunteers affected by these wildfires. Credit union supporters in every state can always make donations to the General Disaster Relief Fund at

“After an unprecedented summer of natural disasters in 2018, we encourage everyone to give to the Foundation’s General Disaster Relief Fund to help respond to deadly wildfires that are burning in both Northern and Southern California,” said Gigi Hyland, Foundation executive director. “The General Disaster Relief Fund allows the flexibility to quickly shift aid between the individual efforts as each situation evolves and need becomes present.”