MADISON, Wis. (7/1/10)--While credit unions in Texas battened down their hatches, the Texas Credit Union League, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), and CUNA Mutual Group took measures Wednesday to ensure credit unions were prepared for Hurricane Alex, which hit landfall at 9 p.m. CT in northern Mexico, about 110 miles south of Brownsville, Texas. The Category two hurricane packed 100 mph hour winds at landfall and continued to move inland at about 10 mph, said weather.com
last night. It was the first Atlantic Basin hurricane of this year's hurricane season. It also was the first to hit during the month of June in more than 15 years--since Hurricane Allison in 1995, and the first to make U.S. landfall in June since Hurricane Bonnie in 1986, said weather.com
. "Past hurricanes have taught us the criticalness of being prepared for a hurricane's arrival, especially in the area of communications before, during and after the storm," Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Texas league, said Wednesday. "We are keeping a close watch on Alex, and are doing our best to keep our credit unions in the potentially affected areas informed. Should Texas be impacted by Hurricane Alex, we will be ready to respond to the needs of our credit unions and their staff," Ensweiler said. On Tuesday, the league e-mailed credit unions in the Tri-Chapter area (Coastal Bend, Magic Valley and Texas Crossroads) to let them know the league was actively monitoring Alex's progress, said Linda Webb-Manon, director of public relations at the league. The league attached a 21-page Disaster Planning Guide that outlines the planning process and plan development. The guide also emphasized the importance of awareness, preparation communication and mitigation, as well as recovery steps and checklists including an Emergency Plan Checklist and Credit Union Disaster Preparedness Operations Checklist, she told News Now
. The league's Disaster Preparation website (see link) provided resources and a storm tracker so credit unions could monitor the storm's path. "We do have a disaster recovery team in place, and this team is monitoring Hurricane Alex," Webb-Manon said Wednesday afternoon. NCUA, in anticipation of the potential impact, Wednesday advised credit unions and members in the storm's potential path to "prepare for all contingencies, including the possible interruption of some credit union operations." Members impacted by Hurricane Alex can call an emergency toll-free hotline, which would be activated as needed, said NCUA. It also will have information, including the operating status of credit union branches, on its website (use the link). NCUA will distribute a public service announcement to news media in the states affected with information for consumers about federal deposit insurance coverage for credit unions and how to access their funds. Credit unions in the area were advised to review their contingency of operations plans and business continuity procedures so they could provide financial services for their members. In an evacuation, NCUA encouraged credit unions to take these actions:
* Identify alternate sites and prepare them for potential activation; * Back up systems with backup data stored in a secure location that is accessible outside the impacted area; * Notify the NCUA regional office with the location(s) of the alternate site(s), telephone numbers, and management emergency contact telephone numbers; * Identify any deploying employees and prepare them to take necessary data and/or equipment to the alternate site location; and * Test their backup systems to ensure proper operation.
In addition, credit union staff and members may wish to document important personal family and financial information, NCUA said. See the U.S. Department of Homeland Security link. CUNA Mutual Group also was making preparations for the hurricane, said Phil Tschudy, media relations manager. "As a precaution, CUNA Mutual has contacted policyholder credit unions in Brownsville that carry our property and casualty coverages," he told News Now
. "We provided the credit unions with our emergency claim contact information, and we have obtained theirs." "We advised them we will continue to monitor the storm and asked them to contact us if they sustain any damages. Our toll-free disaster hotline (800-637-2676) is answered 24/7. We plan to follow up with the credit unions once the storm passes," Tschudy said.