RIDGECREST, Calif.– In the two weeks since two large earthquakes hit this region of California, area credit unions are reporting their employees have joined with other organizations in providing food, supplies and other support.
The assistance comes as the region has since been hit by a third tremor with a magnitude of 4.9 and numerous smaller tremors.
Among the credit unions providing assistance is AltaOne FCU, which has been distributing supplies, feeding families and other avenues via its newly-created "AltaCares" community outreach program, according to the California and Nevada Credit Union leagues.
"We created AltaCares to provide not only financial support for local nonprofits and other agencies in an effort to meet the immediate needs of the members of the community, but also to provide feet on the ground for deliveries of goods, outreach at community events and manpower for general clean-up," said Pam Easley, CEO of AltaOne, in a statement to the California and Nevada leagues. "More info is forthcoming on an AtlaCares event that will be held at our corporate branch in Ridgecrest."
More Than $40,000 in Donations
Meanwhile, the Desert Valleys Employee Foundation, managed by Desert Valleys FCU, has collected $41,030 over the past week in donations from the credit union system, local community, and others, the league said. The funds are going directly to individuals and families who need help the most.
Contributors include Antioch Community FCU, Kern Schools FCU, SESLOC CU, Northern Star CU, Novo FCU, Upward CU, Redwood CU, Kinecta FCU, McKesson Employees FCU, University CU, Kaiperm CU, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, CO-OP Financial Services, CU Lending, and ShareOne.
“I have officially been floored by the wave of generosity that I simply cannot put into words,” said Eric Bruen, CEO of Desert Valleys. “Things are continuing to progress, and the rebuilding progress is absolutely underway.”
Grant Committee Created
A grant committee program has been opened for any Desert Valleys member to apply, with the committee staffed by employees of Desert Valleys, AltaOne, and Navy FCU. Funds will be disbursed based on need. Grants will be $500 – $1,500 depending on the circumstance, and they will start being accepted on July 29, according to the leagues.
“In a completely separate effort, and at the request of Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin, the Desert Valleys Employee Foundation has also assumed the role of collecting donations from the broader regional community for rebuilding,” the leagues stated. “One committee behind the new effort will assume responsibility for approving the grants, and another committee will coordinate the contractor rebuilding efforts.”
$100,000 Fundraising Goal
A fundraising goal of $100,000 has been set to allow for up to 20 homes to receive repair dollars (up to $5,000 each).
"There are roughly 70 traditional homes beyond repair, but many manufactured and modular homes can be repaired," Bruen said. "Our combined efforts will be focused on restoring these homes."
The effort is expanding to help the local communities of Trona, Lone Pine, Inyokern, California City, and Boron.
“We are averaging about 10 quakes daily that are each a magnitude 3-plus,” Bruen said. “But that’s way down from the 50 or more we felt every day last week.”
77 Earthquake Loans
As of July 17, Desert Valleys told the leagues it has funded 77 “earthquake loans." Each loan is up to $1,000 for 90 days at 5% interest (and a one-payment option), which is providing short-term assistance for members to purchase groceries, medicine, offset other costs, and make sure their homes are safe for living while waiting for insurance monies.
“Our big focus has been on providing support to Trona,” Bruen said. “We are finally getting some real perspective on the damage. Utilities have been restored to the community, but nearly 80 homes and buildings in the area have been tagged as either uninhabitable or seriously damaged. And more than 200 homes and buildings combined, across the affected area, have been tagged yellow or red. Fortunately, the areas has been inundated with supplies and support from agencies nationwide. The outpouring of support has been incredible.”