MADISON, Wis. (8/29/11)--Credit unions along the East Coast were well prepared for Hurricane Irene’s arrival this past weekend. The Maine Credit Union League posted a special Hurricane Irene section on its website last week, with links for consumers to obtain additional information, news and assistance from the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Services. Although it has been two decades since a significant Hurricane struck Maine, other natural disasters during that time have prompted credit unions to develop plans and procedures that have been activated on several occasions, the Maine league said. Maine credit unions were well-positioned to continue to provide the state’s 611,000 credit union members with access to financial services, the league said. Since three-quarters of Maine’s credit unions participate in a shared branching network, most members would likely be able access their accounts at another credit union location if their own credit union is not available. There are nearly 150 shared-branch locations in Maine and more than 4,000 nationwide. Chartway FCU, Virginia Beach, Va., offered its members a Hurricane Irene update page on its website, including a pre-hurricane checklist to prepare for a possible disaster situation. To ensure employees had time to secure items around their homes and take care of their families, Chartway closed branches and back offices in North Carolina, Virginia, Rhode Island and New Jersey early on Friday. Branches in all four states remained closed on Saturday. The credit union also granted “liberal leave” for employees in the affected areas, according to Heidi Worker, Chartway FCU corporate communications director. Chartway also made extra cash available in ATMs in affected areas, Worker said The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association warned its members that flooding is a great threat throughout eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, particularly in the Philadelphia area (Life is a Highway Aug. 26). The New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance (DOBI) issued on Thursday a disaster preparedness bulletin Thursday to all state-chartered financial institutions, including credit unions, said the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Aug. 26). The department reminded financial institutions they are required to maintain disaster response plans to address all reasonably foreseeable risks to business continuity in the event of a catastrophic event. The bulletin recommended that financial institutions review their preparedness plans to include any special provisions for check cashing either by depositors or non-depositors, wire transfers, waiving certain fees and meeting credit needs. New Jersey credit unions were advised to take reasonable steps to adopt emergency by-laws establishing the terms and conditions for continuity of services in accordance with the Credit Union Act of 1984, according to the bulletin. CUNA Mutual Group said Friday it had activated its disaster recovery team to assist credit unions threatened by Hurricane Irene. The company also contacted potentially affected property and casualty policyholder credit unions throughout the projected path. The company will continue to monitor the storm and asked credit unions to contact the company around the clock if they sustain damages. CUNA Mutual said it would follow up with the credit unions once the storm passed. Agility Recovery, a CUNA Strategic Services provider, offered a webinar, “Hurricane Irene: Current Threats & Practical to Prepare,” to help credit unions prepare for the weekend. The presentation on Friday addressed the factors unique to Irene and practical steps for preparation in advance of the storm. Federally insured credit unions in 16 states and the District of Columbia, in the potential path of Hurricane Irene, received a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Dispatch Friday urging them to undertake a thorough review of their business continuity and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery plans in preparation for potential incidents related to this storm News Now Aug. 26).