Thursday, September 18, 2008

Staff on the job, despite devastation at home

HOUSTON, Texas (9/18/08)--The dedication of credit union employees to their mission of service to members is no more apparent than in Texas during the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.

"Their homes have been wiped out, material possessions lost, futures uncertain, and yet they still muster the strength and courage to report to work every day," said Texas Credit Union League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler, in an appeal to credit unions to assist their colleagues (see resource link).

The home of Scarlett Garsea of Neches FCU, Port Neches, was spared. She was lucky, she told the league. A loss of power is nothing compared with the hardships several of her frontline staff are experiencing, she said.

Three Neches FCU employees live in Bridge City, which was hit hard by Ike. One is a newlywed starting to build a new life. She and her husband lost everything.

At Beaumont-based Mobiloil FCU, several employees are in the same predicament, said Ensweiler. CEO Kim Heinze is living in an apartment with no power because her home was flooded by five feet of water.

However, Heinze is more concerned about her employees. A number live in Bridge City and their homes are uninhabitable. They've been allowed to enter Bridge City to assess property damages but aren't allowed to stay. Instead, they have taken refuge with family and friends.

Of the 100 or so people Mobiloil FCU employes, about one-third of the staff have reported back to work.

"If that doesn't illustrate the character of folks we have serving in our movement, I don't know what does," Ensweiler said.

Quickly following the storm's aftermath, Texas Dow Employees CU (TDECU) based in Lake Jackson, reopened all its public access branches throughout Southeast Texas.

At TDECU's Angleton branch, three employees located in the Angleton High School branch arrived early after the storm's passage. They cleaned the building and put it into order, then returned home to change clothes. Then they returned to open the branch and welcome members who needed assistance.

"This was one of many stories of employees going to extraordinary lengths to get back to their branches to serve members," according to the credit union in a press release.

Caite Blount, vice president of student lending with TDECU, is coordinating external communications for the credit union in the aftermath of the storm.

Many employees are assessing damages to their own homes. "They range from minor problems, roof repairs, to trees falling on their houses. A couple employees have widespread damage to their homes," Blount told News Now. "Most have no electricity, and yet they arrive here, ready to work. They're just fantastic."

There wasn't much chance to settle in. "The moment the credit union opened, the members were there."

courtesy of

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