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Co-ops and credit unions are backing recovery efforts to support members in the US and the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Beryl.

Among those needing assistance is  the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions’ (CCCU) Development Foundation, which has launched an appeal for support.

The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions (WFCU) was quick to respond, pledging US$5,000 CCCU’s appeal through its Project Storm Break initiative. 

Through its Development Foundation, CCCU runs social and community development projects, including emergency relief in the aftermath of natural disasters. The confederation has disbursed the first tranche of funds to help severely impacted member organisations with the purchase of medical supplies, food, bottled water and rain tarps. 

Hurricane Beryl, the strongest in history to form in June in the Atlantic, struck Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica this month with winds of up to 240 km/h (150 mph). It then devolved into a post-tropical cyclone that hit the northeastern United States. The death toll for the Caribbean nations and the US currently stands at 33.

CCCU member credit unions in Tobago, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Jamaica were severely affected. In Jamaica, around 35.7% of people (1 million) are members of credit unions. Similarly, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines credit union membership represents 78% of the island country’s population.

Related: Electric co-ops send teams to Florida after Hurricane Idalia strikes

CCCU will use WFCU’s $5,000 donation to purchase power generators to support affected members. 

WFCU is calling on the global credit union community to make contributions to its Project Storm Break initiative to support credit unions affected by storms, including in the Carribbean. 

“Our General Disaster Relief Fund gives WFCU an opportunity to quickly respond to various crises faced by credit unions around the world,” said Mike Reuter, WFCU president. “We are grateful to our generous champions that provide us with the resources needed to fulfil this important mission to be there for those in need in a timely fashion.”

In southeast Texas and Louisiana, Beryl knocked out power for nearly three million people, including more than 213,000 co-op consumer-members.

According to the National Rural Electric Association (NRECA), nine Texas co-ops were affected by the hurricane, which damaged both transmission and distribution lines. State apex Texas Electric Cooperatives is deploying crews from unaffected parts of Texas and other states to help the electric co-ops affected by Beryl.

“TEC has been assisting with mutual aid coordination, pulling co-ops from outside the affected areas to assist and, true-to-form, co-ops have answered the call,” Martin Bevins, the association’s vice president of communications and member services told NRECA.

Meanwhile, in Livingston, more than 76,000 of its approximately 85,000 members of Sam Houston Electric Cooperative lost power as a result of Beryl. The co-op is working on restoring power, using lineworkers, contractors and co-op crews from other areas, including Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc.

MidSouth Electric Cooperative in Navasota was also quick to respond to the storm.

“We are pleased to report that power has been restored to the MidSouth service area following Hurricane Beryl’s movement through our territory Monday morning,” the co-op said in a statement on 12 July. “Clean-up work and repair to isolated outages which could occur will continue for at least several days and certainly for as long as takes to complete the work. 

“Hurricane Beryl was a test to systems we have in place, and work we perform all year to be prepared for this type of scenario. Broken pole count was minimal due to robust construction standards. The majority of fallen trees that caused line damage originated from outside of MidSouth managed right-of-ways,” it added.

The co-op also thanked other co-operatives for stepping in to support it.

“Safety, efficiency and effectiveness are always our goals and part of the MidSouth culture. As we evaluate our performance in the coming days and weeks, we will fine tune elements of our response plan.  

“MidSouth wants to express gratitude to those fellow co-operatives, contract crews and materials suppliers which came to our aid in full force,” it added.

Other co-ops affected included Wharton County Electric Cooperative in El Campo, Houston County Electric Cooperative in Crockett, San Bernard Electric Cooperative in Bellville and Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative in San Augustine.

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