Several immediately begin rolling up their sleeves to help members, communities
Naperville, IL., November 20, 2013 – After an unprecedented November severe storm system that included multiple tornadoes left a trail of damage and devastation in many areas of the state this past Sunday afternoon, the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) is grateful to report that no credit unions suffered any direct damage as a result of the storms.
Although a handful of credit union employees sustained damage to personal property or in some cases lost their homes, we are pleased to state that all personnel are safe.
Latest estimates by weather officials show that at least nine tornadoes are confirmed to have touched down in Illinois that day. This is the highest number of tornadoes that occurred in any one November weather event in the state on record. To date, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has declared 13 state counties disaster areas. It has also been reported that six people across the state have perished as a result of the storms.
One of the hardest hit areas was Washington, Illinois, a town of about 15,000 residents just east of Peoria where CEFCU is located. The credit union has a strong connection to this community,as nearly three quarters of homeowners in the Washington area are members, as are a number of employees, several of whom lost their homes. CEFCU was initially part of the relief efforts after the storms passed, as the parking lot of its Washington branch became a command center, which then shifted to the town’s fire department shortly thereafter.
To further assist with local relief efforts, CEFCU has already donated $100,000 to the Central Illinois Chapter of the American Red Cross, Central Illinois Tornado Relief and donation canisters are set up in all of its 20 Illinois member centers. All funds will be given to the American Red Cross tosupport Central Illinois relief. CEFCU employees
are also holding an employee casual day today, with all funds collected going to the American Red Cross relief efforts as well.
CEFCU vice president Sue Portscheller stated, “Many of our co-workers, friends, families, and
members have been affected by the recent tornadoes, and our hearts go out to them. I am so proud
that CEFCU employees wanted to offer their personal support and show their concern for the
Farther downstate, SIU Credit Union hosted a pizza lunch at its branch in Metropolis, Illinois
which is about five miles away from where a tornado struck the town of Brookport. The credit union
sent an email blast to all of its members in that area and is calling each one individually to see how
they are faring and see what type of assistance they may need. So far, those needs include water
and toiletries. SIU Credit Union also sent three employees to Metropolis to assist in the emergency
supply relief effort, and provided cases of water for donation. The credit union posted information on
all of its social media sites stating the credit union set up all of branches as a place where members
can make monetary and other donations of needed items, which will be forwarded to appropriate
agencies addressing this disaster.
SIU Credit Union is no stranger to tornado relief, as it came to the aid of another local tornado-stricken community early last year. As part of its on-going support, the credit union has three staff members participating as part of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and has a mutual agreement with a local fire department to assist with disaster efforts.
In the center of the state outside the capitol city of Springfield, Heartland Credit Union will be contributing funds to a local radio station and play a role in helping to fill a semi-trailer full of water for the people of Washington. This truck will be sent back with the Washington High School football team after a state semifinal football game this Saturday against Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin. In addition, the credit union will be holding a special jeans day this Thursday, November 21 to raise funds for storm relief in Central Illinois. The money raised will be donated to the Red Cross. Heartland Credit Union is also encouraging staff to donate food and other most needed items to the relief effort.
Other Illinois credit unions are reporting they are making individual donations to local relief efforts or will have emergency loan programs at the ready in the event that their members have such a need for funds.
“Credit unions live out their philosophy of ‘People Helping People” everyday, and truly in times of disasters,” said Dan Plauda. ICUL president/chief executive officer. “It is still early in the relief efforts, but as the days and weeks progress, I’m sure we will continue to hear more stories of how Illinois credit unions are helping their members and communities rebuild after these tragic events.”