Hunker Down, Then Help Rebuild

Credit unions have an opportunity to help their communities bounce back from Hurricane Sandy.


From North Carolina’s Outer Banks to New York’s Battery Park, Hurricane Sandy has impacted lives and livelihoods across the Eastern Seaboard. When the waters recede and the damage is assessed, credit unions in these states and across the nation will be tasked with finding new and creative ways to step up donations, increase manpower, and disperse financial services to get these affected communities back to normal.

Sandy is projected to cause as much as $35 billion to $45 billion in damages nationally. But given the indefinite closure of mass and local public transportation systems, schools, and regional businesses up and down the coast, it is local economies that will likely bear the brunt of this charge. 

If you’re not in a region that is directly affected, take a play from Texoma Community Credit Union’s ($95M, Wichita Falls, TX) book and send baked goods or catered food to first responder stations and clothes or other essentials to shelters in coastal communities.

Members will also be seeking capital to repair, replace, or even enhance their autos, homes, or businesses beyond what insurance may cover. Likewise, affordable short-term personal loans will be important for hourly workers seeking to supplement lost income. 

Some institutions directly in the hurricane's path may need to first focus on getting their own faculties up and running before they can actually provide assistance. Such scenarios are a tough reminder of the value of investments in alternative delivery channels, remote data management, and business continuity.

According to Cisco, roughly two-thirds of data center traffic will be cloud based by 2016, indicating the need for credit unions to seriously consider this channel. Other institutions like Palisades Federal Credit Union’s ($162M, Pearl River, NY) have invested in items like a mobile branch that can be deployed as a back up facility in case of emergencies.

Those that lag behind on these types of investments risk not only being at the mercy of Mother Nature, but also falling behind their competitive peers who can recover their data and become operational faster in a time of crisis.

In the next few days, be safe, be smart, and be thinking about the resources you have at hand and how those might be used to better your institution, your members, and your neighboring communities in need.