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All eyes on Ike CUs return to biz after Hanna

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (9/8/08)--Credit unions near the Lower Florida Keys Sunday were preparing for the outer bands of Hurricane Ike while credit unions along the eastern seaboard from the Carolinas to New England were mopping up for business as usual today after Tropical Storm Hanna moved through Saturday. Hurricane Ike, a Category 4 hurricane, was progressing toward eastern Cuba Sunday and its path--whether over land or over water--will determine if it loses strength and where it turns northward into the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile credit unions along the Gulf Coast are watching the hurricane. Its direction today and Tuesday will determine which states go on full alert in a region that experienced Hurricane Gustav just a week ago and is still dealing with power outages from that storm. Credit unions along the eastern seaboard are open for business today after Tropical Storm Hanna failed to strengthen. Still, the storm buffeted some areas of North Carolina with 77 mph winds and several inches of rainfall from South Carolina to New England. Its major impact, besides flash flooding in some areas, was to delay travelers' flights. Early reports from three credit unions at Myrtle Beach and Georgetown, S.C., near where Tropical Storm Hanna went ashore at 3:15 a.m. EDT Saturday, indicated no damage or problems from the storm, the South Carolina Credit Union League reported to News Now Saturday. Those credit unions are Carolina Trust FCU and AVX-MB FCU, both based in Myrtle Beach, and Georgetown Kraft CU, based in Georgetown. All three reported no damage or problems and said they will open today for business as usual. The rash of hurricanes--Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike--have prompted credit unions to review their business continuity measures. Just Friday three credit union service organizations (CUSOs)--Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC), Ongoing Operations (OGO) and Digital Dialogue, a subsidiary of PSCU Financial services--announced they are working together to assist credit unions in disaster planning. "With Hurricanes Hanna and Ike moving in, we are very concerned that as members are being evacuated, they still have access to their credit union accounts," said FSCC President/CEO Sarah Canepa Bang. "There is no question that keeping credit unions up and running during disasters broadens the public's trust of our institutions. Our contribution to disaster recovery allows us to tell the cooperative story to members in a deeply meaningful way."

95 of Louisiana CUs providing cash to members

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HARAHAN, La. (9/8/08)--While Louisiana credit unions are mopping up after last Monday's Hurricane Gustav and keeping an eye out week for Hurricane Ike, their members are receiving service through branches, ATMs or shared branching. According to the Louisiana Credit Union League, 99% of the state's credit unions are providing cash to their members through branches, ATMs or the Louisiana Cooperative Branching Network. Roughly 182 credit unions were in the areas affected by Hurricane Gustav, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) said Friday. Gustav made landfall Sept. 1 as a Category 2 hurricane. "There is a small number of credit unions operating from alternative locations," the league said Friday. "We are working to finalize that number." "The primary cause preventing reopening of all credit unions in the affected regions is extensive power outages across Louisiana, the league said. The outages are expected to last in many areas at least until today. "We have been able to put the lessons of the hurricanes of 2005 to work in 2008," said Anne Cochran, league president. The league "initiated our hurricane preparation plan immediately once Hurricane Gustav became a threat to the Louisiana coast. We made contact with each of our credit union members and activiated our TelSpan service to assist our credit unions and provide continuous updates." "Cooperative branching continued to prove its value to Louisiana credit unions and their members throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav," Cochran said. "While credit unions and tens of thousands of Louisiana residents were working to return home, they were able to utilize the features of cooperative branching to manage their finances and obtain needed cash, even if they were in a town hundreds of miles away from their neighborhood. It's another way for credit unions to serve their members through the best and worst of times," Cochran said. "As each day passes, more credit unions are opening and welcoming their members back to their hometowns. We believe that once the region sees power restored, all operations will return to normal," Cochran said, adding she expected that to happen early this week.