ATLANTA, HAGERSTOWN, Md., and SAN DIMAS, Calif. (9/4/08)--Shared branching is helping credit unions provide service to members in hurricane-affected areas. On Monday, Hurricane Gustav made landfall west of New Orleans. Tropical Storm Hanna is expected to hit near Georgia and South Carolina this week. The storms have prompted several vendors to help credit unions with shared branching. “Having shared branching in place before an emergency situation is ideal,” said Carroll Beach, CO-OP Shared Branching president and chief operating officer. CO-OP Shared Branching staff have been in contact with credit unions in the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Gustav began threatening the area last week. The vendor has helped implement offline procedures and emergency rules as needed, the company said in a release. CO-OP’s network services team and information technology staff also have been on alert status to provide continuous service. The company’s Next Generation Network is available to assist credit unions not on shared branching. Financial Service Centers Cooperative (FSCC) and Ongoing Operations (OGO) also helped credit unions in the Gulf Coast. “The benefit of shared branching is evident during disasters, but our connections allow us to assist non-shared branching credit unions as well,” said FSCC President/CEO Sarah Canepa Bang. OGO and FSCC are helping a non-shared branching credit union in the Gulf Coast rebuild its ATM activity. “We are able to leverage [FSCC’s] connection to assist a credit union in Harahan, La., that has declared disaster mode. Their members may currently be displaced or in different areas of the country; therefore, this strategy simplifies the way credit unions bounce back,” said OGO President/CEO Kirk Drake. FSCC also offers the Emergency Shared Branch program, which provides credit unions and their members a way to complete deposits and withdrawals at FSCC shared branch locations. FSCC is waiving the set-up charge for the program and is not requiring credit unions to sign onto full shared branching. Credit unions also are using FSCC’s emergency hotline service, which is operated by Digital Dialogue--a subsidiary of PSCU Financial Services. The program gives credit union staff and members a phone number to call for information. FSCC’s virtual private network is helping credit unions connect their disaster sites to shared branch services. FSCC offers the Shared Branch Network, with more than 5,000 full-service deposit-taking locations in the U.S. and overseas. OGO is a credit union service organization providing software and processing solutions for credit unions.