GLENVILLE — Volunteers from Trustco Bank’s Glenville branch drove down to Florida to bring water and supplies to those affected by Hurricane Ian.
Four volunteers left Schenectady Thursday with two vans filled with supplies.
Trustco Bank Senior Vice President JR George and Vice President of Marketing Adam Roselan of Trustco Bank’s Glenville branch spoke about the work they, and others from the bank, did to help those affected by Hurricane Ian.
“We have branches that were impacted pretty severely just with water damage, wind damage, you name it,” George said. “We have a few branches that were right in the heart of the storm, Venice, Englewood and Beneva, were some branches that were hit pretty severely.”
Employees began organizing the help effort before the hurricane hit, George said. He said they knew the need would be immediate after the storm hit, so they went to purchase supplies to bring to Florida.
“We have employees, family, friends, we have a lot of snowbirds that go down to the west coast of Florida,” George said. “So a lot of people at the bank know people personally, might have family there. We’re a pretty small organization, so even the executive management knows the people personally who work at those branches.”
The group made three stops in Florida, two at Trustco Bank branches and at a local church. They brought water, canned goods, batteries, paper towels and other essentials to the residents who had been through the storm.
“We had two sizable vehicles that we filled to the brim,” George said. “And we tapped a few employees, Adam being one of them, who energetically jumped at the opportunity to get in a truck and drive down there, they actually drove through the storm.”
Roselan was one of four employees from the Glenville branch who drove down to Florida last weekend. The group left from Schenectady Thursday afternoon and by the time they reached the Carolinas the group had to stop because of the storm, George said. By Saturday morning the caravan reached Florida’s west coast.
“Obviously we’re not a Target, or a Walmart or a Lowe’s, where we’re bringing 600 trucks, or generators as big as a house,” George said. “But we thought that anything that we could do at the time would be helpful.”
Trustco Bank has 147 branches in total, with about 50 in Florida and five on Florida’s west coast, George said.
“We went to our Beneva Village branch first, in Sarasota,” Roselan said. “We had a number of employees there, ready, they didn’t have any power in their homes, water, things like that. We brought batteries so they could have flashlights, we brought tarps, there was a lot of roof damage.”
The bulk of the supplies went farther south to the Englewood branch, which was hit harder by the hurricane, Roselan said.
“It was pretty bad,” Roselan said. “We’ve had a couple bad storms up here, but seeing houses just completely ripped apart, roof gone, motorhomes flipped over, trees down and the roads washed out, it’s pretty wild how bad that storm was and the damage that it caused.”
The majority of Trustco bank’s branches in Florida have been able to reopen, with the remaining two are expected to open in the coming days.
“We’re not going to solve this, but we’re going to help,” George said. “And I think that Florida, this will be a long-lasting effort that we partake in. It won’t just be supplies that we delivered. We really like to take good care of our employees, and customers, and all Floridians.”
This was not the first time Trustco Bank has helped out after a natural disaster. A van of supplies was brought to Kentucky when parts of the state were experiencing heavy flooding. Roselan said he had helped with that effort as well.
“This is something that we do,” Roselan said. “We consider ourselves the hometown bank, and we take care of our neighbors.”
On Tuesday Trustco Bank announced it had made a $10,000 donation to the Florida Disaster Fund, the state’s fund to support communities affected by Hurricane Ian.
“We are always ready to support the wonderful communities in Florida and our countless dedicated employees and loyal customers there,” Trustco Bank Chairman, President and CEO Robert J. McCormick said in a news release. “We are thankful to our local teams who drove down to provide food and water to the communities we serve and hopeful that our donation can provide relief after the devastation left behind by Hurricane Ian.”