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Damage from Hurricane Laura is pictured Monday, August 31, 2020, in Cameron.

Hurricane Laura rolled in and out, leaving a path of destruction across many communities in Louisiana. As soon as the wind died down, our friends and neighbors started rebuilding their lives and cleaning up the destruction.

Our bank had numerous ATMs powered by generators, and we opened our branches the day after the storm. I watched as our ATMs dispensed cash at record levels and our drive-thru lanes became backed up in no time.

Many merchants were not accepting credit or debit cards because their terminals were down due to power and connectivity issues. At the same time, some grocery stores and other merchants were not accepting cash because their banks were not yet open or because of new procedures they have adopted.

I heard numerous stories from consumers who could not get the food they needed or critical supplies because hard currency was not being accepted at some merchants.

Our experience here in the heart of Louisiana is not unique. This type of story plays out often in our economy in times of crisis and sometimes on normal days.

Technology is fine, until it’s not! “No Cash” policies hurt many in times of crisis, usually our most unfortunate in their time of highest need.

The kindness, generosity and fortitude of the American people is heartwarming and encouraging. It shines in moments of disaster when we unify to address challenges. It’s disheartening when recovery is made more difficult because a need cannot be filled using a good old American greenback.

We have many problems in our society. Hard currency as a medium of exchange is not one of them. I encourage us all to recognize the dangers of doing away with cash and make your voices heard to our elected officials.

BLAKE CHATELAIN

president, Red River Bank

Alexandria

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