Carolinas Foundation joins in efforts to aid Puerto Rico, Caribbean islands
Thursday, September 28, 2017
These are the words Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions Director Aaron Moses uses to describe the state of the northern Caribbean in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria during an interview with CU Broadcast’s Mike Lawson. 1
Several islands, including the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, were severely impacted by the storms affecting over 3.4 million people, including credit union members.
“In this particular case, we have had some of our member countries—where credit union membership is very strong—suffering tremendous damage with the worst being the island of Dominica,” said Moses. “They have suffered tremendous catastrophic damage to the economy where over 90 percent of the housing stock has been significantly damaged.”
|NBC News: NOAA Satellite images show Puerto Rico in 2014 (top) and after Hurricane Maria on Sunday, September 24.
Following Hurricane Irma, the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) activated its Caribbean Relief Fund to assist credit union staff and members, and since extended that aid to additional islands damaged by Hurricane Maria.
The National Credit Union Foundation has also activated CUaid to raise money for credit union people affected by Hurricane Maria, and is working with the New York Credit Union Foundation to distribute specific funds to credit union people in Puerto Rico. A number of credit unions on the island are members of the New York Credit Union Association through the partnership programs facilitated by WOCCU. 3
At the time of Hurricane Irma, the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions indicated that approximately $1.9 billion may be required for reconstruction in these countries. 2 An estimate, no doubt, that will be increasing as recovery efforts continue.
“This is a challenging time in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico, and in the Caribbean,” said WOCCU President/CEO Brian Branch.
According to the National CU Foundation, over ten thousand credit union staff and volunteers are potentially affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. In fact, the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation has already distributed 1,090 “Phase I/Critical Needs” grants totaling $990,000.
It will be a long road towards recovery in these areas, but Branch notes how remarkable the credit union industry is in stepping up to help people in great need around the globe.
“One of the most endearing parts about the credit union system is that when there is a disaster like this, it’s very often that credit unions are the first institutions on the ground providing relief to the local citizens,” said Branch. “Because they are community based—right there, helping members.”
How to Help
The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation is now accepting online donations towards both of the efforts by the National Credit Union Foundation and WOCCU, and will match donations up to a total of $2,500 for each organization.
“It seems unprecedented that major hurricanes, just weeks apart, have delivered so much devastation," said Lauren Whaley, Carolinas Foundation president. "The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation stands ready to lend our financial support and are encouraging others in the credit union industry to join in making a donation.”
Donate to the Carolinas Foundation Disaster Relief Fund
Dollar-for-dollar funds given towards these efforts through the Carolinas Foundation will be sent to NCUF and/or WOCCU for disbursement.
1 CU Broadcast. “Episode #822: How Caribbean CUs Weathered Double Punch From Hurricanes Irma and Maria.” 25 September 2017.
2 WOCCU. “World Council Activates Caribbean Relief Fund.” 14 September 2017.
3 NCUF. "CUAid Accepting Donations to Help CU People Affected by Hurricane Maria." 28 September 2017.
Carolinas Foundation: Disaster Relief Aid updates on Harvey and Irma