Al McKinnon shares the same concerns as many of his SouthCoast Bank customers whose lives have been turned upside down by the COVID-19 health crisis.

McKinnon, the bank’s president, realizes the outbreak has cost many of his customers their jobs or their businesses closed through no fault of their own.

“The phones have been blowing up,” he said. “There are frustrations all over the place.”

The promised federal aid is coming, but McKinnon said he is still waiting for direction on the role local banks will play in distributing funds.

“I’m telling clients to fill out the forms on the application website,” he said.

The bank is among many that are working individually with customers who are worried about repaying mortgages on their homes and office buildings.

We’re granting payment deferrals with small businesses and mortgages,” he said. “We want to be a participant in helping everyone secure this.

The deferrals can run as long as 90 days to six months, he said. The good news is a deferral on a mortgage payment will have no impact on a person’s credit ratings, McKinnon said.

It’s important for employers to keep workers on the payroll to help everyone get through the health crisis that has crippled many small businesses in the Golden Isles and across the nation, he said.

McKinnon did express optimism the local economy will rebound and the banks will play an important role in helping individuals and small businesses.

“I’m optimistic,” he said. “It’ll take time to pick up the pace but we’ll be back sooner than later.”

Curtis Tumlin, Glynn County marketing president for PrimeSouth Bank, said his staff is also aware of their customers’ concerns.

We have already worked with many of our customers on extending loans where warranted,” he said. “We will continue working with them while educating them on the government-assisted programs available.

Tumlin said the No. 1 priority for his customers is to stay safe and remain in contact with the bank if they need help with their finances.

“We are here to help our local businesses in any way we can,” he said. “In addition to advocating for local businesses and encouraging others to support them, we’ve also purchased gift cards for our employees from our local businesses to help them during this time and to recognize our employees for their dedicated service to our customers as an essential business during this time.”

Tomlin expressed optimism the local economy will rebound after the health crisis ends.

“We absolutely believe the local economy will rebound after COVID-19 passes,” he said. “We have a great group of core local leaders here, and we’ve seen this community come together in previous crises. We’re confident that we’ll see that again, and we will emerge from this a stronger community.”