Fires and Power Outages: CUs React and Assist

Redwood CU
Redwood CU, as a small gesture of thanks, provided dinner to officers at the Santa Rosa Police Department and the City of Santa Rosa Fire Department.

Power outages by Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison intentionally cutting power to thousands of customers as well as the many fires that erupted last week once again impacted credit unions in California. They, in turn, reached out to assist affected members as well as the communities they served.

Below is a sampling of how credit unions coped:

Community First CU: The credit union was mostly back to normal on Friday after some disruptions caused by the large Kincade Fire that devastated parts of Sonoma County. “We were shut completely on Monday: no power, and some locations (including headquarters) were in mandatory evacuation zones,” said Vice President of Marketing and Human Resources David Williams. On Tuesday, the credit union opened four of its 11 branches; an additional one on Wednesday, and all branches by Thursday. Mandatory evacuations have been lifted in all areas; though some sections still are under evacuation warnings. Community First is providing affected members with a Skip-a-Payment program on existing loans as well as offering 90-days no payment on new loans for cars, RV, and manufactured homes.

North Bay CU: Credit union had to close its offices last Monday. Only one branch was open for a partial day last Tuesday and Wednesday but by last Thursday, all the branches were fully operational. CEO Chris Call said all staff and members doing well and glad to be getting back to normal after the evacuations.

Patelco CU: On Oct. 28, its Danville, Lafayette, Novato, Santa Rosa, San Bruno, and Pleasanton branches were closed due to power outages. Its Windsor and Santa Cruz ATMs also were affected by the outages. Then with the Kincade Fire raging out of control, Patelco’s Santa Rosa branches remained closed because it was now in a mandatory evacuation zone. By Halloween, all of its branches were open and operational, according to CEO Erin Mendez. In addition, in order to help the Humane Society of Sonoma County, which is experiencing hardship due to power outages, the credit union is pledging to match donations (up to $1,000) to help them continue to care for and support animals in need in the wildfire devastated communities.

Premier America CU: The credit union closed one of its branches on Friday due to concerns regarding air quality from the Maria Fire, which started near Santa Paula area. All the other branches remained open, according to SVP of Member Experience Marci Francisco.

Redwood CU: All of its branches are now open. It was able to maintain branch availability at most locations and in select locations where it may have been the only option due to its comprehensive disaster plan, according to Communications and Public Relations Manager Tracy Condron. “At one point we had nine branches running on generator power to keep our services available to our members and communities,” she added. Its main branch has 430 employees and were in the evacuation zone but still managed to serve its members. Redwood CU members were able to get cash at any ATM and the credit union reversed any fees. It also reversed any late fees members incurred. It also allowed members to come into branches and use Wifi to connect with friends and family.  On Saturday, Oct. 26, it opend its corporate office as an evacuation shelpter for affected employees until it too was placed under mandatory evacuation early Sunday morning. The credit union also has created special financial assistance and loan programs for those directly affected, including 0 percent loans of up to $5,000 and reduced rates on vehicle loans. Out in the community, Redwood held a barbecue for the Santa Rosa police and fire departments, provided essential supplies to evacuation centers, partnered with Mountain Mike’s Pizza near the corporate headquarters to provide free dinners to evacuees and first responders, and donated a generator to Sonoma County Office of Emergency Services to operate a water treatment plant in Cloverdale, Condron said. It has activated its Redwood Credit Union Community Fund to help those affected by the Kincade Fire. If your organization wold like to support those impacted by the fire through Redwood CU, please a mail check payable to the Fund to Redwood Credit Union Community Fund; P.O. Box 6104; Santa Rosa, CA 95406.

Ventura County CU: Everything is back to normal now at the credit union. The Moorpark branch was closed termporarily as it was in the evacuation area for the Easy Fire in Simi Valley, according to Vice President of Marketing Tina Estes. On Halloween, power was out at the Oxnard branch for a few hours. On Friday Estes had said: “We are now dealing with the Maria Fire and severe smoke in the county today and are getting air purifiers and masks out to branches and our corporate office."


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