ALEXANDRIA, Va, (8/26/11 UPDATE 10:00 a.m. ET)—Federally insured credit unions in 16 states and the District of Columbia, in the potential path of oncoming Hurricane Irene, will receive a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Dispatch today 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. The states targeted—perhaps by Irene and therefore by the Dispatch—are Florida—though mostly out of danger at this point--Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hamsphsire, and Vermont. The alert is expected to say:
*Credit unions potentially in the path of the storm should take action now to ensure they are prepared for any events resulting from the hurricane. Events related to a hurricane may have a significant effect on the operation of your credit union and your members. * Management’s action should be commensurate with the complexity of the credit union’s operations and focus on minimizing interruptions of service to members and maintaining member confidence if the credit union is affected by the hurricane.
The following lessons, the Dispatch will note, have been learned from previous disasters:
* Implement pre-disaster actions to ensure a constant state of readiness, and take steps to ensure assets and vital records are preserved if an early warning is received and until the event has passed. This includes:
*Ensuring current backup files of critical data are created and the backup files are maintained in a location an appropriate geographic distance from the potential areas Hurricane Irene may impact. *Identify critical staff for continuity of operations and if necessary relocated staff an appropriate geographic distance from the potential areas Hurricane Irene may impact.
* Update the credit union’s NCUA Credit Union Online profile if for some reason there have been any recent contact information changes. *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 before the hurricane hits or related events occur; * Ensure back-ups are available not only for data but also personnel, worksites, equipment, vendors, and other resources; and *Treat disaster preparedness and response plans as “living documents” and update the plans as circumstances related to this event change.
NCUA says management’s action should be commensurate with the complexity of the credit union’s operations and focus on minimizing interruptions of service to members and maintaining member confidence if the credit union is affected by the hurricane. In the event of a disaster or other emergency, NCUA works with affected credit unions, state credit union organizations, and state regulators to ensure federally insured credit unions are aware of assistance available from NCUA. If necessary, NCUA will reschedule routine examinations of effected credit unions. Depending on the nature of the event, NCUA also encourages an extra level of credit union assistance to impacted members, such as special loan terms and reduced documentation requirements. If necessary, credit unions can reach NCUA at: (703) 518-6300 or NCUA.gov.