All too often we are reminded of Mother Nature’s wrath. Whether it’s last month’s torrential flood waters pouring down on Louisiana or this summer’s wildfires blazing a trail through California, the fragility and power of our ecosystem is on full display.
But as fires are doused, floodwaters recede, and the ground beneath us stabilizes, the fortitude of the human spirit emerges—determined to restore order and return a sense of normalcy.
Offering a helping hand to pick up the pieces and move forward are the nation’s community bankers, who are at the ready with a hot meal, financial assistance, or loan modification to help their customers and neighbors in their time of need. It’s this sense of community and our more than 200 years of history that has forged a bond that no natural disaster can permanently tear asunder.
“We had people visit us in the parking lot as well as had a drive-through available for those to get a hot meal and share their stories,” said John D’Angelo, president and CEO of Investar Bank in Baton Rouge, La. After opening its doors following the severe storms, bank volunteers lined up to serve 1,200 hot lunches and deliver meals and water to those in need.
Because of their hometown roots, customers also rely on their community banks to establish and promote financial assistance drives, like former NFL player Todd McClure. The Baton Rouge native reached out to his community bank, Bank of Zachary, and two local non-profits to expand its GoFundMe drive under a 501(c) umbrella in support of flood victims in Zachary, La.
That’s why ICBA Bancard’s subsidiary, TCM Bank, is supporting a Red Cross donation drive and has also pledged weather-related disaster assistance to its agent bank cardholders. For instance, the bank is offering to waive late fees, provide free payments over the phone, and work on behalf of its customers to document hardship requests.
“We have had widespread flooding before, and we have had devastating floods before, but this is both widespread and devastating,” said Preston Kennedy, president and CEO of Bank of Zachary. “No doubt, federal assistance will be needed, but the vast majority of these people are doing everything within their own power to help themselves.”