Project Storm Break to Help Bahamian Credit Unions Rebuild
Two credit unions damaged by Hurricane Dorian will put money toward restoration efforts
October 03, 2019
MADISON, Wis.—Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the charitable arm of World Council of Credit Unions, is distributing Project Storm Break funds to help two credit unions in The Bahamas repair infrastructure and replace equipment damaged by Hurricane Dorian.
The impacted credit unions are on Grand Bahama—one of the islands hit hardest when Dorian came ashore in early September as a Category 5 hurricane.
Public Workers Co-operative Credit Union (PWCCU) faces challenging conditions at its Freeport branch. Bruce Foulke, President & CEO of American Heritage Credit Union, visited there on a World Council assessment trip to Grand Bahama in mid-September—finding visible water lines that reached four-feet high, up to the top of their teller counter. Behind the teller counter, the water marks were five-feet high. Despite PWCCU’s generator being elevated three feet off the ground outside, salt water that rose nearly eight-feet high rendered it inoperable. Inside the building, structural damage to the concrete floor was visible as it partially collapsed nearly five inches in some spots.
Public Workers Co-operative will use Project Storm Break funds to replace sheet rock, dry wall and the teller counter. They also need to replace several pieces of computer equipment and office furniture.
National Workers Co-Operative Credit Union (NWCCU) has yet to reopen the main office of its Freeport branch since Dorian caused extensive damage to the building. NWCCU staff is temporarily providing services to members out of a smaller building on the same property, but cannot reopen its main office without making repairs and buying new equipment.
NWCCU will use Project Storm Break funds to repair the roof and purchase several items for the branch, including a new ATM machine and backup generator.
Public Workers and National Workers are the first Bahamian credit unions to apply for rebuilding and restoration funds available through Project Storm Break, but Worldwide Foundation Executive Director Mike Reuter expects more credit unions in The Bahamas to ask for assistance.
“Our credit union Champions have generously donated to Project Storm Break since we introduced the forward-prepared fund in early July—especially in the month since Dorian caused so much devastation on Grand Bahama and Abaco. Many credit unions on those islands are still assessing the full extent of their damages, so we know this is likely not the last request for funding in 2019,” said Reuter.
The Worldwide Foundation is once again working with the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU) to get Project Storm Break funds to credit unions on Grand Bahama. CCCU and the Worldwide Foundation each disbursed cash to The Bahamas Cooperative League Ltd. in the days after Dorian, which used it to purchase supplies for staffers and members of several credit unions in Freeport.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 85,400 credit unions in 118 countries serve 274 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.