Steady streams of disappointed customers were turned away Wednesday morning from offices of 45 banks and credit unions closed by the state's new governor.
"I heard it this morning on television. It blew my mind," Evelyn Skillings said as she climbed out of her car at an East Providence Credit Union branch."How are you going to pay bills? How are you going to manage?" the elderly woman said, echoing the fears of many depositors.
Newly sworn-in Gov. Bruce G. Sundlun wasted no time taking action on New Year's Day when he closed 45 Rhode Island banks and credit unions covered by a severely depleted insurance fund. The surprise move came a day after the Rhode Island Share and Deposit Indemnity Corp. asked to be placed in financial conservatorship.
The action means customers holding $1.7 billion in 300,000 accounts cannot withdraw their money until further notice.
"It's not a very happy New Year," depositor Arthur St. Hilaire said. "I told my wife today, if things keep like this, I'm going to buy a fireproof safe, put it in the basement, and that's where my money is going."
"I'm more worried than I was last night. Reality has set in," Manuel F. Phillips said outside an East Providence Credit Union branch.
The credit union's customers were met by copies of Sundlun's three-page closing order taped to the glass doors.
Police reported few problems.
"The telephone has been ringing all morning" with calls from worried depositors, said Joseph Bellucci, president of the Providence Teachers Credit Union, who is also chairman of the RISDIC.
Officials for the private industry-run insurance fund said its reserves had been drastically depleted by depositors' demands for money from a bank that failed in October.
The state-chartered institutions, which include about three dozen credit unions, will remain closed until they secure federal depositors' insurance, Sundlun said.
All but two of the closed institutions had applied for federal insurance before the closure.