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Tuscaloosa credit unions surviving; working together

LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine talks to DCH CU Assistant to the CEO Becky White about the damage to the credit union.

While most of the Tuscaloosa credit unions made it through last week's tornado OK, some were not as fortunate. The League spent Monday in Tuscaloosa talking with credit unions and assessing the damage they sustained. DCH Credit Union was open Monday at 12pm on generator power. This was quite a feat considering the credit union had been closed last Thursday and Friday after suffering damage to the front of the credit union. Many cars in the parking lot had windows blown out by the storm. DCH utilized shared branching for its members while it was closed. Alabama Credit Union and Tuscaloosa Credit Union helped DCH members access their money and helped them get a maximum of $200 out of their account, even though the DCH server was down. Many hospital employees, much of DCH's seg, count on DCH for accessing their money right after payday. Tuscaloosa was able to help the employees access the money.

"This really saved our hospital employees who had no other banking options," said Amy Price, DCH marketing director.

A T-Mobile store is destroyed right next to DCH CU. The credit union roof can be seen in the background.

"The credit unions and their staff are truly amazing," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "They are working in buildings on generators while servicing members and working with them to access their money. They are being resourceful and setting up in mobile areas so members can find them. Shared branching also helped DCH members access their money at Alabama CU and Tuscaloosa CU. When DCH was closed, the members’ accounts were not. We are truly seeing the credit union spirit in the midst of this disaster.”

DCH also set up a mobile center in the cafeteria of the hospital to help members access their accounts. They allowed each member to get a $500 emergency loan. DCH processed $125,000 worth of emergency loans.

Two DCH employees also lost everything they had in the tornado. The Southeastern Credit Union Foundation is working to asses their needs. The SECUF is accepting donations through its Disaster Relief fund, while also accepting applications for grants. You can find more info at

The Tuscaloosa Housing Authority home is destroyed by the tornado.

To put in perspective how this storm rolled through Tuscaloosa, Alabama One is a half block up and across the street from DCH and had some minor water damage. You can stand in Alabama One's headquarters and see destroyed homes across the street. Alabama CU is headquartered near the Alabama stadium and was in the path of the storm before it changed directions. They received no damage and their branches in Tuscaloosa made it through fine. They have some power outages in outlying branches like Cullman and Huntsville.

Credit unions are hearing tough news from members as many have lost loved ones. When there are more than 500 still missing from this storm, the hard stories still to come. DCH is the only CU employees we’ve heard from in this area who lost everything.

A child's toy car survived the tornado while the housing complex around it did not.

Alabama CU is working with its members to help them in the aftermath of the tornado. They are doing loan extensions, $1,000 no interest loans, waiving payments and restructuring loans. Tuscaloosa CU is working with the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation and the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority to see if they can help 116 families whose homes were destroyed in the tornado. The housing authority is finding the families homes, but they need money to turn on the electricity. Then they will need essentials like pots and pans, towels, sheets, Tupperware and furniture.

The League will deliver the Pen Air FCU donated mobile branch to Community CU in Gadsden Tuesday. The League will then drive it up to Rainsville where the branch was destroyed by a tornado.

For credit unions that would like to donate to the SECUF Disaster Relief Fund, click here. There is also information about the National Credit Union Foundation's online disaster relief fund.