Hundreds of safe-deposit boxes flooded by Hurricane Harvey

HOUSTON (AP) — Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall flooded hundreds of safe-deposit boxes in Houston and forced more than 30 of the area’s bank branches to close.

About 400 of Chase Bank’s 80,000 safe-deposit boxes in the city flooded, the Houston Chronicle reported . Wells Fargo, Bank of America and BBVA Compass didn’t specify how many of their safe-deposit boxes were damaged, though Bank of America says about 2,000 boxes were at its three branches closed by the flooding.

Tiffany Rogers rented a safe-deposit box at a Chase bank nearly a decade ago. She said she paid $250 annually to store her family’s birth certificates, passports and other important items.

“I thought I could keep them safe if my house burned down,” Rogers said. “I never thought of floods.”

Chase is offering customers free ultrasonic cleaning machines and cleaning solutions to help salvage coins and jewelry. The bank is also reimbursing customers for the cost of replacing important documents, such as passports and birth certificates.

Chase has relocated thousands of boxes to another building where customers can make appointments to retrieve their items.

Bank of America is providing customers information on restoration and replacement services, bank officials said.

Chase and BBVA Compass have waived safe-deposit box fees. Chase fees typically run from $45 to $165 depending on the size of the box, while BBVA averages about $50 a year for a 3-inch-by-5-inch box.

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

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