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CUANY NCUA reps meet on post-Sandy strategies
ALBANY, N.Y. (11/15/12)--Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) staff met with National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) representatives Friday to discuss the impact of Hurricane Sandy on New York credit unions.

Rebecca Paliwodzinski, associate regional director of operations for NCUA, and Jon Flagg, NCUA supervisory examiner, talked with CUANY about lessons learned, short-term challenges for credit unions and their members, and long-term priorities.

At a meeting Friday to discuss Hurricane Sandy's impact on New York credit unions were, from left, Rebecca Paliwodzinski, associate regional director of operations at the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA); Jon Flagg  NCUA supervisory examiner; and William J. Mellin, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New York. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York) 

NCUA confirmed that all New York credit unions are now operational--although a small number are delivering services from limited or alternate branches.

Paliwodzinski and Flagg shared their pre- and post-hurricane strategies. The NCUA team reached out to roughly 881 credit unions in New York and New Jersey before the hurricane to verify key contact information, said Paliwodzinski. "This was a huge positive for us, as it facilitated rapid-fire contact when the storm hit," she added.

Sandy made landfall at 8 p.m. Oct. 29 near Atlantic City, N.J., packing 80-mile-per-hour winds and causing massive flooding along the state's shoreline and in New York City. More than 7.9 million homes and businesses were without power, from North Carolina to Maine.

Hurricane Sandy's impact on the economy may result in $10 billion to $20 billion in total economic damages and $5 billion to $10 billion in insured losses, according to early estimates from catastrophe-risk modeling company Eqecat (News Now Nov. 1). Since then, estimates have gone up to $60 billion.

Flagg, a Long Island resident, served as supervisory examiner in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Referring to his experiences from that time, he noted that New York credit unions are in much better shape overall than the credit unions impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Paliwodzinski praised credit unions for their cooperative efforts during Sandy's aftermath, CUANY said.

CUANY President/CEO William J. Mellin asked about NCUA's plans regarding credit union disaster preparedness. Paliwodzinski confirmed that examiners look at credit unions' disaster recovery plans during examinations. However, both Paliwodzinski and Flagg said the agency has no plans to conduct special or early evaluations.

"Confirming that credit unions are operational was our first priority, and we may also need to look at recordkeeping later if issues arise," explained Paliwodzinski.

The group also acknowledged that impacted credit unions may face potential loan servicing issues. "We will be looking to assist credit unions with methods for recording deferrals and extensions, but we would handle that on a case-by-case basis," said Flagg.

As for potential capital challenges, Paliwodzinski emphasized that NCUA's requirement for achievable net worth restoration plans is firm, but assistance and guidance are available to credit unions facing challenges.

"Our examiners are trained to look at the big picture," she said. "As always, we encourage credit unions to communicate with their examiners and share any issues or concerns they may have."

CUANY will continue to dialogue with NCUA about credit unions' post-hurricane recovery.

"Regulatory advocacy is an essential part of the work we do for New York credit unions, and this is just an extension of that advocacy," said Mellin. "Meetings like these allow us to hear the agency's perspective, share the challenges our credit unions are facing and work together toward the fullest recovery possible."

Joining Mellin for the meeting were Michael Lanotte, CUANY senior vice president/general counsel; Ronald McLean, senior vice president of association services; Tracy Conner, CUANY vice president of member services; Michael Carter, CUANY compliance director; and Edward Kovalefsky, chief operating officer of CUC Mortgage Corp.

See today's related stories in News Now: "Regulators issue more guidance for FIs to help Sandy-stricken borrowers" and "N.J. CUs continue struggles from Sandy's aftermath."
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