Redwood Credit Union (RCU) has responded to the recent Kincade Fire in a multitude of ways to help its members, employees, and communities. With widespread power outages, mandatory evacuations, and the fire itself impacting much of the credit union’s field of membership over multiple days at the end of October, RCU jumped in to help.
The Kincade Fire started on October 23 about 40 miles north of RCU’s main offices in Santa Rosa, and swiftly began moving southwest, prompting a series of mandatory evacuations. As this was unfolding, RCU’s emergency response team quickly put its disaster response plan into motion.
Support for RCU’s employees included:
- Opening its main offices as an evacuation shelter for employees, their families and pets, by providing them with showers, toiletries, sleeping bags, pillows, sleeping mats, and meals (prepared by the CEO and executive team).
- Allowing them to bring their children to work due to school closures. Onsite day care was also provided.
- Deployment of air scrubbers at all affected branch and office locations to combat poor air quality from the smoke.
- A two-way telephone/text communication system so RCU could efficiently communicate with employees to share information and check in on their well-being.
- Allowing employees to work remotely until mandatory evacuations were lifted.
- Supplying free, hearty meals to employees.
- Providing payment of lost wages to employees due to the events.
Support for members included:
- Maintaining services at all ATMs and all branches except two (which were in mandatory evacuation zones).
- At one point, nine branches were on generator power because of extensive power outages throughout the region.
- In some areas, RCU was the only financial institution and/or ATM operating during the outages.
- In affected areas, branches were equipped with air purifiers so people could visit RCU branches to breathe fresh air, have a cup of coffee, and use WiFi to connect with family and friends.
- Availability of online and mobile banking.
- Ongoing updates of information on website and social channels to keep members and the community informed of available services.
- Financial assistance programs to support members impacted by the fire and evacuations, including:
- 0% interest loans up to $5,000 for urgent needs.
- Discounted loans for autos, trailers, and RVs for those who lost vehicles or housing in the fires.
- Automatic increases of credit and debit card limits.
- Reimbursement of out-of-network ATM fees so members who had evacuated out of the area could get cash.
- Direct deposits were processed a day early to give members quicker access to their funds.
- Loan and credit card payment relief.
- Overdraft and late fee reversals.
Support for the community is ongoing, but has so far included:
- Providing a generator to Sonoma County Office of Emergency Services to operate a water treatment plant.
- The purchase and donation of goods including blankets, towels, space heaters, fans, and sundries to support up to 800 evacuees in local shelters.
- Providing a free barbeque for local fire and police departments.
- Partnership with a local pizza restaurant to supply free meals to nearly 300 evacuees and first responders.
- Providing tri-tip dinner at a family-appreciation event for 150 first responders and their families.
- Providing tri-tip dinner to 150 low-income housing residents who were evacuated.
- Partnering with the city of Healdsburg as a presenting sponsor of its “Welcome Home” event for the community.
- Volunteering at the local assistance center to help fire survivors connect with the resources they need.
- Coordination of multiple volunteer efforts with local food banks.
Many additional community efforts are being planned to support housing security, food security, mental health and wellness programs, and community-building events that promote resilience, connection, and healing for those who need it.
“Our mission is serving the needs of our members, employees and communities. In times of disaster, our focus is to make sure our employees are safe, to ensure our members have access to their money, and to support our community’s needs during and after the event,” said Brett Martinez, president & CEO of RCU. “We have a strong disaster plan in place and an amazing dedicated team that allows us to make these things happen.”
About Redwood Credit Union
Founded in 1950, Redwood Credit Union is a full-service financial institution providing personal and business banking to consumers and businesses in the North Bay and San Francisco. RCU offers complete financial services including checking and savings accounts, auto and home loans, credit cards, online and mobile banking, business services, commercial and SBA lending, and more. Wealth management and investment services are available through CUSO Financial Services L.P., and through RCU Services Group (RCU’s wholly owned subsidiary), insurance and auto-purchasing services are also available. RCU has over $4.7 billion in assets and serves more than 344,000 members with full-service branches from San Francisco to Ukiah, plus more than 30,000 fee-free network ATMs nationwide. For more information, call 1 (800) 479-7928, visit redwoodcu.org, or follow RCU on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for news and updates.