Friday, July 25, 2008

Texas CUs batten down as Dolly hits coast

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (7/24/08)--With the eye of Hurricane Dolly making landfall Wednesday afternoon on South Padre Island, Texas, near Brownsville, some Texas credit unions had battened down the hatches in preparation.

The storm contained steady winds of 100 mph with gust reaching 120 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in a Wednesday afternoon advisory (> July 23).

All three credit unions located in Brownsville, Texas--Brownsville City Employees FCU, First Financial Community FCU, and Valley FCU--did not answer their phones when contacted Wednesday morning by News Now, and were assumed closed.

The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) is monitoring the situation and has a Disaster Preparation page on its website to monitor Hurricane Dolly (use the link).

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a proclamation Wednesday allowing national bank offices affected by the hurricane to close at their discretion. Credit unions already are allowed the discretion to close if conditions warrant, according to John McKechnie of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Therefore NCUA had no plans to issue a similar statement, McKechnie said.

An advisory issued Tuesday by the Commissioner of the Texas Credit Union Department stated:
"In conjunction with Gov. Perry's proclamation concerning the threat from Hurricane Dolly, the [Texas] Credit Union Department advises Texas state-chartered credit unions with offices in areas that may be affected by this hurricane to take appropriate precautions to safeguard property and personnel. The department notes that state-chartered credit unions in Texas have the authority ... to close offices threatened by an emergency if the department is notified as promptly as possible, by any means available."

CUNA Mutual Group also was taking steps on Wednesday to prepare for Dolly's landfall and aftermath.

"We're always concerned anytime a hurricane strikes land," Phil Tschudy, media relations manager, CUNA Mutual, told News Now. "While we have not contacted any credit unions at this point, we have activated our disaster team to handle any losses caused by this hurricane.

Fortunately, there are a limited number of credit unions in and around the Brownsville area.
"Due to the size of this particular storm, we don't anticipate it will have a large impact on our insureds," he continued. "Nonetheless, all hurricane-related loses will be handled on a priority basis. Credit unions can report losses by calling our disaster phone line, which is staffed 24/7/365, at 800-637-2676."

The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) will check with TCUL and the state credit union foundation in the aftermath of the hurricane to see if any help is needed, Steve Bosack, NCUF deputy director, told News Now.

"Generally, state foundations take the lead and assess damages and the impact on members. Then NCUF will contact the state foundations to see what help they need and if we can assist," Bosack explained.

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