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Severe Weather Week Focused On Preparedness
MADISON, Wis. (3/8/13)--Several state credit union leagues are taking steps to help credit unions prepare for tornados and severe weather this spring. This week is National Severe Weather Week, and April is National Tornado Preparedness Month.

"The Texas Credit Union League has a Disaster Preparation section on its league website, which is not specific to just tornados but for any type of disaster," Linda Webb-Manon, TCUL vice president of public relations and communications, told News Now.

In that section, TCUL provides a 21-page Disaster Planning Guide that credit unions can use to create their own continuity plans. The guide includes a planning process, plan development, awareness, preparation, mitigation response, recovery, an emergency plan checklist, a credit union disaster preparedness operations checklist, an emergency contact list, and a list of state and national resources.

The TCUL website section also features an American Red Cross disaster supplies kit, three Federal Emergency Management Association guides, brochures on how to deal with hurricanes, and several links to other resources.

The Southeastern League of Credit Unions--which represents Florida and Alabama credit unions--works with its member credit unions to make sure they are prepared for any type of disaster or threat, Mike Bridges, league vice president of marketing and communications, told News Now.  

"We have two Disaster Recovery Conferences, one in Alabama and one in Florida, to help our credit unions prepare for an impending disaster and to make sure they have the most up-to-date information for their disaster recovery plan," Bridges explained. "The league has an 800 number available for credit unions to use to record a message for their employees in case of a major disaster. This phone line helps to keep the lines of communication open when a credit union sustains major damage or an extended power outage, especially in this cellphone age.

"The league recently acquired a mobile branch from Pen Air FCU [Pensacola. Fla.]," he added. "This mobile branch, which has been dispatched to two Alabama credit unions following tornados, allows credit unions to continue offering services to members even though one of its locations is not functional."

The Southeastern league also administers many planning sessions for credit unions. The planning session covers disaster recovery and the need for a plan. That allows credit unions to stay compliant with their plan and to revisit it yearly to ensure it's optimal, Bridges said.  

Tropical Financial CU, based in Miramar, Fla., with $547 million in assets, as part of its disaster recovery/business continuity plan program, has written procedures for action to be taken prior to, during and after hurricanes, tornadoes and/or high wind events, along with other types of disasters or events, Alfredo Goenaga, vice president administration for Tropical Financial, told News Now.

"Additionally, individual business units have their own emergency contact listings along with specific instructions on evacuation and areas to meet at in the event of an emergency situation," Goenaga added. "After hours communication is available through our employee hotline, for general communication, and through more specific channels for key personnel. I am also a member of the Emergency Operations Center for Dade County. This gives us an on-site presence with the Office of Emergency Management prior to, during, or after any crisis." 

The Kansas Credit Union Association monitors weather conditions and responds to credit union needs on an individual basis, Susan Dyer, KCUA communications director, told News Now.  "Because the majority of Kansas is rural, we are lucky in that past tornadoes seemed to have missed our credit unions, for the most part," she added.

The Credit Union National Association has resources for credit unions to deal with severe weather damage and other disasters, including a severe weather webinar on Wednesday. See the links below.

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