Throughout the mortgage industry, providers are taking action to help people affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Countrywide Financial Corp. is offering a toll-free hotline, 1-800-669-6607, for hurricane victims with questions and requests related to their existing Countrywide mortgages.

Countrywide said it would work with every borrower who has lost his or her home and encourages them to call the hotline as soon as possible.

The Calabasas, Calif.-based company said Friday it does not yet have a full assessment of its 24 branches in the affected areas and is placing a priority on the safety and security of its employees. At this point, the company said, 15 branches are closed.

Countrywide said it has established contact with most employees in the impacted areas, and both the company and its employees are offering shelter and financial assistance to them. Employees in these communities will continue to receive their salaries and benefits. Additionally, the Countrywide Foundation has a disaster relief fund in place to assist employees who have suffered losses.

Wells Fargo & Co. and its team members will contribute up to $1 million to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in the affected Gulf States, the company said. The company will contribute $500,000 to the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to support immediate disaster relief and recovery.

In addition, Wells Fargo will match contributions from its 151,000 team members dollar-for-dollar, up to $250,000, for a potential total of $1 million, Wells Fargo said Friday.

“Hurricane Katrina has become a nationwide disaster, affecting a part of the country where Wells Fargo has more than 1,000 mortgage and consumer finance team members, 100,000 customers – and many more family and friends,” said Wells Fargo’s Chairman and CEO Dick Kovacevich in a statement.

“As our country continues to assess the damage from this horrifying disaster, we want to support relief efforts,” Kovacevich said. Wells Fargo is working to help customers in the affected states with questions about their accounts and payment schedules. Mortgage customers can call 1-888-818-9147.

Wells Fargo Home equity customers can call 1-888-667-6059 for more information about home equity line-of-credit increases up to $25,000 for existing Home Equity customers affected. In addition, on a case-by-case basis, Wells Fargo will provide more help such as extended terms and deferred payments

Washington Mutual will provide special assistance to help customers and residents in the federally declared disaster areas as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The company’s disaster relief program includes penalty-free CD withdrawals, reduced interest rates on home equity loans, quick approval on personal lines of credit and alternate payment plans for loan customers.

Washington Mutual is also donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and is collecting additional donations at its retail banking stores across the nation from those who want to make a financial contribution to the Red Cross. In addition, the company said it would match funds contributed by its employees who wish to make financial contributions to the relief efforts.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to janis@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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