Bankers in region join together for hurricane relief

Bankers across the nation are raising funds to help with the immediate needs after Texas was hit by Hurricane Harvey on August 25.

Bankers across the nation are raising funds to help with the immediate needs after Texas was hit by Hurricane Harvey on August 25. The devastation in Harvey’s wake has impacted at least 60 of Texas’ 254 counties.

AirCharity, a custom-built donation portal created by MainStreet Bank in Fairfax, Va., is the conduit for much of the funds.

The Community Bankers Association of Ohio has joined the efforts. “Together with the state community banking associations across the country, we’re spreading the messages and making contributions to send to the Independent Bankers Association of Texas who will coordinate resources on our community’s behalf,” said Kelly Phillips, CBAO’s marketing director. “CBAO has made a contribution to the fund, and it is our understanding that banks and bankers across the state have done the same. As you know, the community banking industry is a tight-knit family, and especially in times of crisis, we come together to support our community banking family, friends and their neighbors and communities.”

The funds received will be funneled through the Independent Bankers Association of Texas to the Texas Bankers Foundation of the Texas Bankers Association. The executive committees of both trade associations will then meet on September 15 “to determine how and to whom the funds will be distributed,” said Jocelyn Carby, foundation coordinator. “Since this is still ongoing, we still have areas that are flooding…we just don’t know what help will be needed and where. Bankers want to help support this.”

The TBA foundation was chosen to hold the funds because they had done so for two other disasters in the past: wildfires in 2011 in Bastrop, Texas, and a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, in 2013. Carby indicated that the American Bankers Association has also joined forces with TBF and that the Texas Department of Banking and the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending is in support of the efforts, within legal bounds.

Carby said the funds received at the end of last week totaled more than $90,000 and expected that amount to continue to rise. The ABA had pledged $100,000 and would match any employee contribution. TBA also approved a $100,000 donation and will also match employee donations.

“We are pleased with the responses and we are touched that people are reaching out, but I will tell you it’s very early in the process. It takes days if not weeks for corporate contributions to be blessed and approved,” said Chris Williston, senior vice president at IBAT. The funds will help “get some direct help to bank employees that are in impacted areas. [It’s] not going to solve all their issues, make them whole, but hopefully it will help them out some.”

Banks with offices in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky that have pledged Harvey relief funds, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Bank of America, with offices in 35 states, will donate $1 million through its Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

BB&T Bank will donate $100,000 to the Red Cross.

BMO Harris Bank, with 62 offices in Indiana, will contribute $100,000 to the Red Cross.

Citibank, through its Citi Foundation, has committed $1 million to the Red Cross.

Comerica Bank, headquartered in Dallas, has 196 offices in Michigan. It will donate $100,000 to the Red Cross. It will also waive ATM fees for customers who need to use other ATMs and non-customers who need to use its ATMs.

JPMorgan Chase will donate $1 million to relief efforts and matching employee donations. It too is waiving fees, such as late fees for mortgages and credit cards through September 10 for areas in impacted areas.

Nationwide Bank in Columbus, Ohio, as part of the Nationwide financial companies, has committed $500,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief. It has assets of $7.2 billion.

PNC Bank through the PNC Foundation will donate $250,000 to the Red Cross and match employee contributions

Regions Bank of Birmingham, Ala., has offices in Indiana and Kentucky and has pledged $100,000 to relief efforts.

Wells Fargo will donate $1 million to relief efforts. The funds will be split between the Red Cross and other nonprofits working on relief efforts.