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Cooperation, communication were key in Sandy response: NCUA's Matz
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/11/13)--Communication, collaboration and collective effort were key as credit unions prepared for and reacted to Superstorm Sandy, National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz said last week.

"Credit unions often cite the philosophy of 'People Helping People,' and after Hurricane Sandy, the philosophy came to life," she said. "We can be proud of our collective efforts in the face of adversity."

Matz made her remarks at a Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) event held last week on Long Island.

CUANY President/CEO William Mellin and CUANY Long Island Chapter President/Nassau Financial FCU COO Chris Penna were among the nearly 100 credit union leaders that attended the event.

Matz commended the credit union representatives for their efforts after the storm, outlined NCUA actions, and discussed the many lessons the agency learned, including the need:

  • For frequent communication with members before and after a disaster;
  • To prepare cash contingencies to ensure members have access to paper funds immediately before and after a disaster;
  • To test and re-test generators, data backup files, business continuity plans and other critical systems; and
  • To partner with credit unions, including those in other regions or states, to provide emergency facilities and alternate back-office sites.
John DeIeso, chief information officer for NEFCU, Westbury, N.Y., said it was a proud moment to witness the cooperation between credit unions that followed the storm.

Mellin noted that the New York Credit Union Foundation's statewide Disaster Relief Fund has provided nearly $150,000 in grants to impacted credit unions and credit union employees, volunteer leaders and members. CUANY has also held multiple meetings with NCUA staff to promote communication and collaboration. "NCUA has been incredibly supportive and accessible in the months since Hurricane Sandy. When we have this level of cooperation between our credit unions and our regulators, everyone benefits," he said.

However, Penna emphasized that the regional response to Sandy is not yet over. "Our members and our communities still need us," he said.

The Credit Union National Association offers comprehensive disaster preparedness materials. A CUNA disaster preparedness page also links to CUNA Strategic Services (CSS), which offers key products and services to assist credit unions in the event a disaster. CSS partner Agility Recovery provides disaster recovery services to credit unions across the country. Agility and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have collaborated to develop a disaster preparedness website, preparemybusiness.org.

For more on CUNA's disaster preparedness resources, click the link.
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