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Preparing for the unexpected

Did you know that hurricanes with female names are deadlier?

According to a recent article in USA Today, researchers examined more than 60 years of death tolls from the 94 hurricanes that hit the USA from 1950 to 2012 and found that hurricanes with a feminine name killed more people than those with male names. The scientists put the masculinity and femininity of some storm names on a rating scale and determined that a masculine-named storm would kill about 15 people, but a hurricane of the same strength with a female name would kill about 42.

Here are the hurricane names for 2014, so you can track if this logic holds true for this year’s hurricane season:



July 9, 2014 -- As a hard-hitting tornado season enters the wind-down phase, now enters hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Oceanic (NOAA) recently released its annual outlook on the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season. The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. However, with that said – all it takes is one super-storm like hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and the forecast no longer really matters.

Whether your credit union is located in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast region or in the Midwest – risks exist from all kinds of disasters, so now is a good time to get the business continuity plan off the bookshelf, brush off the dust and make sure it is executable. In the event of a disaster can your credit union keep operating and continue to serve your members?

Ken Schroeder, Corporate One’s Director of Business Continuity has first-hand experience helping credit unions recover following a disaster and has developed tips that can be applied to any disaster recovery effort.

Following a disaster, landlines and cell phones are unreliable, but text messaging can offer a measure of backup support. Satellite phones are a better choice but can be expensive. The best option is to arrange for phones to be switched to an out-of-area host site. Set-up procedures for contacting members and include an employee hotline where staff can call after the storm/incident for the latest information.

Back-up supplies:
In the case that power goes down, have a back-up generator to keep the credit union running. Keep in mind that during a power outage, expect a fuel crisis too as it takes electricity to run fuel pumps. Have a back-up plan that includes stockpiling fuel.

It is common that your members will want cash after a disaster. Have a source of emergency cash, because when you‘re out of cash, you’re out of business. Keep in mind that a power outage affects other businesses too, not just your credit union, so cash could be the only form of payments for a period of time.

Consider that the credit union may have to operate without full staff for a period of time. Always have staff cross-train to fill-in for missing staff, especially for critical functions such as tellers, call center and lending. Have emergency contact information for each employee, as well as a contact number at their evacuation destination.

Have a plan for securing your facilities and assets as quickly as possible. Always have a copy of the trial balance in all offices and be prepared to dispense cash to members based on the trial balance. In addition, have emergency lending procedures available to implement during a crisis. Have a co-location with redundant servers outside the area or build a mobile unit equipped with a generator, ATM, laptop and satellite communication.

Preparing before a disaster strikes can make all the difference in recovery. There is no way of knowing when a disaster will take place, but it stands to reason that one will eventually end up somewhere in Corporate One’s footprint. Your business continuity plan should position your credit union to be able to recover operations following a crisis and to be resilient enough to sustain capability. Every credit union needs to take some specific steps to be ready. These tips are just a minimum, and if you do not exercise them – it may be too little, too late. But be assured that Corporate One stands ready to assist credit unions that may find themselves in the midst of a disaster. We can help credit unions obtain the essentials they may need to remain open. Should you lose Internet access, Member Services can process wires (make sure you have telephone access), make transfers or handle other transactions that are typically handled through Member$MART. Additionally, Schroeder is available to provide advice to members on solidifying their business continuity plan prior to a crisis. Contact Ken at 866/MyCorp1, ext. 4125.