Hurricane Irene has driven home the importance of disaster planning to one of Vermont's credit unions.
“We found out how important [disaster plans] are and they saved us from what could have been worse,” said Terry Field, vice president of finance at the $565 million Vermont State Employees CU, which even on Friday night while the storm was still hundreds of miles away “decided that we would start all of our disaster plans that night because I remembered when happened to us in May when we had disastrous floods.”
And so through the weekend the disaster drills and midnight and 6 a.m. staff conference calls continued with staffers at the CU’s six branches.
It was good that they did because sespite all that advance work, the Montpelier CU still ended up with property damage at a still-closed facility in a flooded state office building in Waterbury, said Field.
“We are simply at the whim of the state when we can reopen but we had our employees in there today to take out cash, personal possessions and member information,” said Field adding that in terms of priority “those are the most important things we get out.”
Curiously, power outages while plaguing CUs in some other parts of the state were never a major problem for his CU but “we never expected those rains and the flooding which were devastating,” said Field.
If the CU’s disaster plan would have been perfect, “we would have anticipated on Friday that we needed to pull out the computers and clear out everything from our Waterbury office,” said Field. But then if nothing happened, “then it might have been overkill.”