International Space Station view of Hurricane Irene over the Atlantic Ocean, a few days prior to the storm's landfall in NC.
Credit unions in eastern North Carolina continued to clean up in the wake of Hurricane Irene, which struck the state over the weekend. Branch closures and some damage was reported near the direct path of the storm, but the main impact to operations seemed to be the loss of electrical power. By Thursday, all credit union branches were reported to be back on line and fully operational.
The storm swept through NC on Saturday, knocking out power to many areas in the eastern part of the state. State Employees' Credit Union closed six branches Monday, while a few others delayed opening. Each of these closures and delays resulted from a loss of electrical power, with no significant structural damage reported.
Two SECU employees were not as fortunate. One had a tree come through the roof of their home, and the other was dealing with two trees that fell on a second residence. Luckily no one was injured in both instances.
Marine FCU reported that three branches were closed early in the week due to a lack of power. The locations in New Bern, Havelock and Swansboro, which all lay near the direct path of Irene, reopened once electrical service was restored. COO Jeff Clark noted that there was slight property damage, but the lack of power had a larger impact.
Weyco Credit Union had no power at any of its three branch locations in Plymouth, New Bern and Ayden on Monday. Manager Steven Hardison said Thursday that all three locations had power and had resumed normal operations.
The storm damage was not limited to the immediate coastal areas. The drive through at Telco Credit Union in Tarboro was damaged by the wind. "The wind got underneath it and blew out some of the ceiling, a light fixture and some of the electrical lines," said CEO Charles Johnson. The exposed electrical lines and debris were secured on Wednesday and the drive through reopened. A contractor will repair the damage at a later date.
Tree limbs also snapped power lines at First Carolina People's CU in Goldsboro, which forced the credit union to close Monday. The staff reported that things were getting back to normal by mid-week.
The storm moved ashore near Cape Lookout Saturday morning and moved steadily north through the Outer Banks. Irene weakened prior to landfall to a category one storm, but still packed a considerable wallop as she made her way through the Tar Heel State.
Away from the Outer Banks, many areas in eastern NC reported high winds and heavy rains from the storm on Saturday. Hundreds of thousands lost power from the Raleigh-Durham area south and east to the coastline. While a few outages remain, most of the power has been restored.
"We're happy to hear that our credit unions fared pretty well in NC," said John Radebaugh. "There's a lot of clean-up work to be done, but it could have been a lot worse. CUAid has been activated by the National Credit Union Foundation," Radebaugh added, "so if any needs emerge in the next few days, we encourage credit unions to contact the League."