Hurricane Maria has largely brought financial services on Puerto Rico to a standstill. The category 4 storm tore through Puerto Rico last week, leaving the majority of the Caribbean island without power.
The New York Credit Union Association has reached out to the cooperativas on Puerto Rico to best determine how to assist the island’s financial cooperatives in their recovery efforts. With a power grid that has been essentially destroyed, communications have been slow and arduous.
According to the Association’s contacts in Puerto Rico, some credit unions have been operating on very limited hours with limited services. However, most cooperativas have no cash now—there are no armored trucks to carry it—and it has been difficult for staff to get to work. The institutions are largely running on gas and diesel generators, though fuel is in short supply.
Additionally, most ATMs are not working, so no credit card or debit card transactions are going through, and there are no online ACH transactions. The only way they are clearing transactions is through Banco Cooperativa, which is linked to the Federal Reserve System.
The Association has close relationships with the island’s credit unions; nine credit unions in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are associate members of the Association. Additionally, New York has the largest Puerto Rican population on the mainland U.S.
“Our Puerto Rican colleagues—and all those affected by this horrific storm—are in our thoughts and prayers,” said Association President/CEO William J. Mellin. “So often we have seen the credit union movement stand together when our peers needed it most, and this time will be no exception. The credit union movement has provided New York with gracious support during some of our most trying times. It is only right that we return that support.”
While no cooperativas have yet asked explicitly for monetary assistance, the New York Credit Union Foundation is available to provide disaster relief grants. To make a donation, visit the Foundation’s website.
Additional details will be provided as the Association receives updates.