Sometimes the worst circumstances bring out the very best in our humanity and in our communities. When torrential floodwaters descended upon our Texas neighbors recently, individuals and communities united to provide comfort and support during a time of great need. That outreach continues today, fortified by the resiliency of the nation’s community banks as policymakers offer resources to help affected citizens with recovery efforts for Hurricane Harvey and impending Hurricane Irma.
As we’ve seen with previous disasters, community bankers have risen to the occasion, helping their customers, neighbors, staff and fellow business owners despite their own challenges and losses.
Earlier this month, ICBA recognized two such banks for their exemplary community outreach as part of the 2017 National Community Bank Service Awards.
Grand award winner Poca Valley Bank of W. Va., received top honors for its post-flood relief, providing nearly $100,000 in financial aid after a flood destroyed homes, schools, churches, a post office and infrastructure last year. The $338 million-asset bank also offered loan forgiveness and participated in a winter coat giveaway for affected citizens.
ICBA also recognized The Bank of Missouri for its recovery efforts after a powerful tornado swept through its hometown of Perryville earlier this year. Following the storm, the $1.3 billion-asset bank’s staff quickly approved special loan packages to help storm victims rebuild. Employees hand-delivered flyers to their community for the bank’s “Rebuild-Remodel-Purchase-Replace” program that covers financing for home construction and improvement and auto loans, with the bank covering all closing costs.
ICBA wants to extend a helping hand as well and has joined with MainStreet Bank in Fairfax, Va., to establish the Hurricane Harvey Community Bank Relief Fund, a portal through which community banks across the nation are already coming together with the common goal of sending financial resources directly to other community bankers through a qualified charitable organization. One hundred percent of donations will go toward the cause as MainStreet Bank covers service charges. ICBA is directing donated funds to the IBAT/TBA Foundation for maximum impact.
ICBA’s Crisis Response and Preparedness Center, which includes tips, industry news and an Emergency Preparedness Guide, is another resource available to help banks prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
Time and time again, community banks have answered the call, helping restore a sense of normalcy to weather-devastated neighborhoods and serving as a critical resource for their communities during good times and bad.
As the floodwaters recede, and the grounds beneath us stabilize, the fortitude of the human spirit remains intact and maybe even a little stronger. It’s this sense of community and our commitment to stepping up and leading through good times and bad that has forged an inexplicable bond between community banks and the communities they serve—a bond that no natural disaster or crisis can break.