All four federal regulatory agencies, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, have once again released separate joint statements encouraging financial institutions to “meet the financial services needs of their communities” in or near the two major disasters in the United States, Hurricane Ida on the Gulf coast and the ongoing California wildfires.
Such disasters are becoming ever more consistent and common in recent years, and it is not an unfair question to ask whether credit unions should have a disaster preparedness plan at the ready, 365 days a year. The year 2020 alone broke records for disasters throughout the country, and in extremely destructive and expensive ways. The Atlantic Ocean spit out so many hurricanes that meteorologists ran out of names to call them for just the second time in history. In the West, states repeatedly broke records for largest wildfires on record. Extreme storms flattened buildings and destroyed agricultural crops. To top it off, the planet had its hottest year on record.
All suffering from environmental disasters is NOT equal
In sum, the U.S. in 2020 had 22 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, six more than any year prior, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These increasingly violent disasters affect millions of Americans and are progressively disastrous for low-income communities and communities of color. They put lives at risk while destroying the dependable structures and institutions that are essential to those communities like homes, schools, and businesses.
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