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75 of Gustav-affected CUs fully operational
MADISON, Wis. (9/5/08)--More than 75% of credit unions in the Gulf Coast states affected by Hurrican Gustav are operational, while the rest try to get back to normal. There were fewer losses than expected, but access to affected areas Thursday were still hampered by power outages and communications problems. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) said that as of the close of business Thursday there were about 180 federal and state-chartered credit unions in affected areas and that more than 75% are fully operational. "Efforts to contact the remainder are hampered by power outages, which are making it difficult to ascertain the status of the others," John McKechnie, director, office of political and congressional affairs for NCUA, told News Now. For Mississippi, “this was a non-event in contrast to Hurricane Katrina [in 2005],” Charles Elliott, president/CEO of the Mississippi Credit Union Association, told News Now. “We do not have much damage. Some credit unions got some water and were sandbagging. There was minimal water and flooding. “Two Gulf Coast offices were not open Wednesday--mostly due to lack of staff, but they are open today,” he said Thursday. “We also had some branches that were not open Tuesday. We came out of this extremely well. We were prepared for the worst. So we feel fortunate.” While CUNA Mutual Group cannot provide specific names of credit unions that reported losses, due to confidentiality constraints, it did have an update on the aftermath of Gustav and what lies ahead, Phil Tschudy, CUNA Mutual media relations manager, told News Now. “We're still concerned for credit unions suffering from Hurricane Gustav, but the attention of CUNA Mutual’s property and casualty claims area now is also focused on Hanna and Ike,” Tschudy said. “Regarding Gustav, losses sustained by credit unions continue to be far less than we had expected. This doesn't mean some credit unions will not have challenges ahead of them, however.” Many New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., area credit unions are not yet open due primarily to evacuation orders and/or power outages, he added. “Through information provided to us by the Louisiana league, and from New Orleans and area credit unions we've been able to reach, we believe that once people are allowed back, most credit unions should be fully operational once power is restored. “Our adjusters in the Baton Rouge area report that actual physical damage to buildings is not serious, but the lack of power, downed trees and sporadic communications in that area will continue to hamper recovery operations and prevent credit unions from opening. Authorities hope this situation will improve dramatically over the next few days,” Tschudy said. Credit union staff in three affected parishes in Louisiana--Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary--will be able to fully assess damages on Monday and let the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) know if national fund-raising assistance is needed, Steve Bosack, NCUF deputy director, told News Now Thursday. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is monitoring the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav and is ready to respond, if necessary, with resources that include the following: CU Locate: the Credit Union National Emergency Information System provides credit union members with a toll-free number, 1-877-CULOCATE (877-285-6228), to receive information about the status of their credit union affected by a crisis. R.E.S.C.U.: the Relief Effort and Support for Credit Unions is the credit union movement's effort to prepare for and respond to large-scale natural and man-made emergencies and business interruptions. This resource includes Adopt-A-Credit Union. Also, CUNA Strategic Services offers disaster preparedness and recovery services through several alliance programs:
* Agility Recovery Solutions can provide a mobile recovery unit fully equipped with power, communications, computer equipment, and many other amenities within 48 hours of a disaster. * Strohl Systems offers PLANet, the industry’s only Internet-based business continuity planning tool designed to help credit unions meet NCUA and Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council regulations for business continuity and disaster recovery. * VoiceGard offers a comprehensive suite of services to restore telephone capabilities after a catastrophic system (PBX) failure or loss of facilities.
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