The World Council of Credit Unions has activated a Caribbean Relief Fund to support credit unions affected by Hurricane Irma.
The disaster struck Caribbean nations on 6 September, killing 44 people and leaving thousands homeless. The storm, which went on to hit the north coast of Cuba, the Bahamas, Florida and Georgia, was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history.
Caribbean nations Anguilla, Barbuda and Tortola have been severely affected; the storm also hit the Bahamas and St. Kitts and Nevis but caused less damage.
In Barbuda, about half of the island’s 1,800 residents have been left homeless while 90% of its buildings suffered damage. Prime Minister Gaston Browne said it had caused unprecedented damages worth USD $150m.
According to WOCCU, there are more than 100,000 credit union members in Anguilla, Barbuda, Tortola and St. Kitts and Nevis. Unofficial estimates from World Council member Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions indicate that approximately US$1.9bn may be required for reconstruction in these countries.
WOCCU pledged to provide immediate relief to help in the reconstruction process.
“It is through these difficult times that our global community comes together to show its strength and reach beyond borders to help those in need,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU president and chief executive.
He urged credit union leaders to offer their financial support in providing relief to those impacted by Hurricane Irma.
Irma hit the region shortly after tropical storm Harvey swept through Houston and south-east Texas. USA’s National Credit Union Foundation is also collecting donations for credit union staff and volunteers affected by both storms.
WOCCU is raising funds through the Worldwide Foundation of Credit Unions, its official gift-receiving and grant-making arm.