AltaOne FCU staff hand out much needed supplies to the local community in the Ridgecrest, CA region where three major earthquakes have struck over the past 11 days.
AltaOne FCU staff hand out much needed supplies to the local community in the Ridgecrest, CA region where three major earthquakes have struck over the past 11 days.

Earthquake Update: ‘Outpouring of Support Has Been Incredible’

It’s been 11 days since two huge back-to-back earthquakes (6.4 and 7.1 magnitude) struck the Ridgecrest, CA area. Many residents still need continual aid — but credit union employees, regional agencies, organizations and others continue to assist by providing food, supplies, equipment and emotional support.

This comes after a third tremor (4.9 magnitude) hit the region last Friday about 6:10 a.m. in the morning. While it hasn’t been easy for the community, the disaster has given local credit unions an opportunity to display their “people helping people” philosophy.

Leaders from AltaOne FCU said credit union staff were finding plenty of opportunities to support the city and its neighborhoods through distributing supplies, feeding families and other avenues via its "AltaCares" community outreach program. The area’s needs are great, but every day local residents’ community spirit is helping forge a path to recovery. AltaOne is one of the two largest locally headquartered credit unions serving the region.

"We created AltaCares to provide not only financial support for local nonprofits and other agencies in an effort to meet the immediate needs of the members of the community, but also to provide feet on the ground for deliveries of goods, outreach at community events and manpower for general clean-up," said Pam Easley, CEO of AltaOne. "More info is forthcoming on an AtlaCares event that will be held at our corporate branch in Ridgecrest."

Additionally, the Desert Valleys Employee Foundation — managed by Desert Valleys FCU — has garnered $40,300 over the past week from the credit union system, local community, and others. The funds are going directly to individuals and families who need help the most.

Contributors include Antioch Community FCU, Kern Schools FCU, SESLOC CU, Northern Star CU, Novo FCU, Upward CU, Redwood CU, Kinecta FCU, McKesson Employees FCU, University CU, Kaiperm CU, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, CO-OP Financial Services, CU Lending, and ShareOne.

“I have officially been floored by the wave of generosity that I simply cannot put into words,” said Eric Bruen, CEO of Desert Valleys. “Things are continuing to progress, and the rebuilding progress is absolutely underway.”

A grant committee program has been opened for any Desert Valleys member to apply, with the committee staffed by employees of Desert Valleys, AltaOne, and Navy FCU. Funds will be disbursed based on need. Grants will be $500 – $1,500 depending on the circumstance.

As more aid arrives in Ridgecrest to help the local communities of Trona, Lone Pine, Inyokern, California City, and Boron, the intermittent shaking hasn’t completely stopped — it’s only slowed down. “We are averaging about 10 quakes daily that are each a magnitude 3-plus,” Bruen said. “But that’s way down from the 50 or more we felt every day last week.” Local residents are starting to feel “much better” as each day passes.

As of July 15, Desert Valleys had funded 70 “earthquake relief loans” and was processing an additional 13. Each loan is up to $1,000 for 90 days at 5-percent interest (and a one-payment option), which is providing short-term assistance for members to purchase groceries, medicine, offset other costs, and make their homes are safe for living while waiting for insurance monies.

Whether through special loans or grants, “Our big focus has been on providing support to Trona,” Bruen said. “We are finally getting some real perspective on the damage. Utilities have been restored to the community, but nearly 80 homes and buildings in the area have been tagged as either uninhabitable or seriously damaged. And more than 200 homes and buildings combined, across the affected area, have been tagged yellow or red. Fortunately, the areas has been inundated with supplies and support from agencies nationwide. The outpouring of support has been incredible.”