Barely a week after Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the coastal Northeast region, a second powerful winter snowstorm slammed into New Jersey, New York, and parts of New England. Credit unions branches have continued their operations through the past few weeks despite inclement weather, power outages, downed data servers, and other significant losses. Their dedication to member service is a comfort to area residents who have come to rely on their cash reserves to cover emergency funds.
And how have members accessed their cash? ATMs are one way. Credit unions and banks recognize the importance of the ATM during evacuations and other times of crisis and have waived or refunded out-of-network ATM fees across hurricane-impacted areas. Although waiving or refunding fees is a great courtesy to members, such a strategy creates extra work for a credit union that already is struggling with damage and power loss.
Because of their cooperative structure, credit unions offer ways for members to access their cash anytime in ways that banks cannot. For example, if their credit union is part of a shared branching network, members evacuating from a natural disaster can use ATMs at any number of locations and institutions, thereby easing some of the stress of accessing emergency cash. This is a benefit whether the member is in the process of evacuating or displaced-but-sitting-tight at a safe location.
According to CUNA, the New Jersey Credit Union League reported that as of 5 p.m. on Nov. 2 — just days after Sandy made landfall — 41 of the state’s 66 shared branching outlets were operational. That's a 41-branch cooperative network the banks could not replicate.
Credit unions come together to donate funds and supplies to affected areas during times of disaster. Shared branching is yet one more way that credit unions give members piece of mind.