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NCUA CUNA advise CUs on hurricane season
WASHINGTON (6/1/12)--With the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Preparedness Week continuing until June 2, and the Atlantic Hurricane Season officially starting today, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has reminded credit unions to "hope for the best, but prepare for the worst."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Jane Lubchenco said this Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be "less active" than those of recent years. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said atmospheric and oceanic conditions favor a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with a 70% chance of nine to 15 named storms. Four to eight of those storms could become hurricanes, and one to three of those hurricanes could become so-called "major storms," with top winds of 111 miles per hour or higher. "But regardless of the outlook, it's vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared," Lubchenco said.

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Two named storms, Alberto and Beryl, have already appeared in the Atlantic, but neither of those storms reached hurricane strength.

The NCUA has consistently urged all federally insured credit unions to review their disaster preparedness and response plans in preparation for the 2012 hurricane season and other potential diasasters, agency public affairs specialist John Zimmerman said Thursday.

The NCUA has suggested that credit unions:

  • Implement pre-disaster actions to ensure a constant state of readiness and take steps to safeguard assets and vital records if an early warning is received;
  • Communicate disaster preparedness and response efforts before, during, and after an emergency to keep members, volunteers, employees, and regulators fully aware of the situation;
  • Utilize a cross-section of people to develop, test, and implement disaster preparedness and response plans;
  • Ensure back-ups are available for not only data but also personnel, worksites, equipment, vendors, and other resources; and
  • Treat disaster preparedness and response plans as "living documents" to be updated as circumstance change.
Disaster preparation resources are also available through the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council and the federal government's Ready.gov website, the NCUA noted.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) also offers comprehensive disaster preparedness materials, including a checklist that asks credit unions if they have alternate plans to serve their members' needs if their conventional cash source is cut off, if they have the resources needed to keep their credit union open in the event of a power outage, and if they have the ability to deal with short-term relocation, if needed.

The 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, and that CSS partner will team up with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to advise business leaders on how to manage crisis situations in a June 12 webinar. Agility and the SBA have also collaborated to develop a disaster preparedness website, preparemybusiness.org, and held a May 29 webinar that addressed hurricane-specific preparations.

CUAid, a natural disaster relief program administered by the National Credit Union Foundation and state credit union leagues, also remains active. The program raises funds through donations from the credit union community, and helps credit union employees, volunteers and members who have suffered unrecoverable losses. CU Aid is collecting donations at this time.

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