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SEATTLE – Don Rohacek, president/CEO of Credit Union Northwest remembers the morning of Feb. 28 when a frightening 6.8 magnitude earthquake jarred the city. Looking back nearly five months, he can laugh now at his naivete. At the time, Rohacek had been traveling down the rolling concrete floating bridge of I-90 that separates the Eastside of Bellevue with downtown Seattle, oblivious that the pontoon-supported bridge’s rocking and rolling, was an earthquake in the making. Fortunately, the CU’s damage was minimal. In a recent interview, Rohacek said that, although Credit Union Northwest had made arrangements for members who had sustained property damage to apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for assistance, they discovered their insurance supported most of their claims. The credit union had, nevertheless, benefited from their PR and marketing plan. “Most of the members who had damage said they were happy with their credit union for offering assistance, it was like a security blanket that they knew their credit union was there to help if needed. They said their credit union’s offer of support gave them peace of mind,” said Rohacek. Rohacek was pleased that the CUs Disaster Recovery Plan had been in place, especially with backup systems for their phones and power. The story for Washington State Employees CU (WSECU), however, is somewhat different – and miraculous. The CU’s headquarters located in Olympia, which was 13 miles from the earthquake epicenter, experienced severe damage. Ironically, all the management staff were off-site that day for a retreat. Total chaos could have been the result for many companies less prepared. But WSECU had earlier developed a comprehensive, well-organized Disaster Recovery Plan, and because the designated safety officers maintained their cool and remembered their training, not a single employee had been hurt. All staff in WSECU’s main office and branches in four cities were quickly evacuated. Interior damage to the main office building was severe, however. So, has anything changed in WSECU’s disaster plan since the earthquake? As reported, in the initial earthquake article in the March 14 issue of Credit Union Times, WSECU president/CEO Kevin Foster-Keddie said, “The most serious problem was the discovery of old, unused air-conditioning units that were attached to the ceiling, but hidden from view. These units became very unstable, and one flew through the ceiling, just barely missing an employee. All these units have been removed from the building.” Not only have these units been removed, but also more intensive inspections have occurred since then, according to Denise McCollum, senior vice president of marketing and business development. In hindsight, she said, they wish they had inspected the building far more carefully before – even under the ceilings. But now, she confirmed, “Contractors, inspectors and engineers have inspected this building very thoroughly – inside and out and made any necessary corrections or repairs. -

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