Thursday, September 11, 2008

Texas league prepares to aid CUs through Ike's impact

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/11/08)--The Texas Credit Union League has sent out an advisory to all Texas credit union employees preparing for a potential disaster with a strengthening Hurricane Ike headed toward the state's coastline.

According to Richard Grady, vice president of marketing, public relations and communications, the advisory went out Wednesday.

The Category 1 hurricane strengthened to Category 2 as of early Wednesday evening and was expected to continue strengthening over the next 36 hours. Forecasters are predicting it will hit landfall somewhere along the Texas coast Saturday morning ( Sept. 10).

"If Hurricane Ike comes on shore as a Category 3 or larger, we may need to execute procedures in our offices to support displaced workers and credit unions," said the league advisory. "Preparations are being made at this time. Our website will carry information, as well as advisements to you and your members."

The advisory said that if the hurricane continued its current course, it would hit the Mantagorda Bay, San Antonio Bay/Victoria area on Saturday morning. However the state is preparing for the effects to be felt on Friday. The brunt of the higher winds and storm surge will be felt up to the Galveston Bay area, said the advisory.

Once on land, the hurricane would continue inland as a tropical storm, which pack winds of up to 75 mph, up to Austin.

The Texas Credit Union Department, the state regulator, advised state-chartered credit unions to "monitor this storm closely, heed warnings form your local leaders, and take necessary and appropriate precautions to safeguard property and personnel."

Credit unions in Texas have temporary authority to close offices threatened by the storm if they notify the department as promptly as possible, said the department's advisory. They also have authority to alter payment terms or grant new loans to assist members through the temporary aftermath of a natural disaster.

Credit unions impacted by the hurricane are asked to contact the regulator by phone, fax or e-mail within 24 hours after the storm to report any damages and the operational status of the credit union.

CUNA Mutual Group said it is also watching the hurricane.

"As Hurricane Ike positions itself to make landfall sometime early Saturday morning, we will continue efforts to proactively contact credit unions in the current projected path of this storm, which is currently near Corpus Christi, Texas and the surrounding area," said Phil Tschudy, CUNA Mutual media relations manager.

"Ike has proven to be challenging with its unpredictable track, and we will continue to monitor and reassess our strategy as this storm progresses," he said. "CUNA Mutual's Credit Union Protection Disaster Team remains activated and will address any storm-related losses and coordinate property-casualty relief efforts. We encourage credit unions that need assistance to contact our Disaster Phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 800-637-2676."

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