DALLAS -As one of the nation's leading check processors, Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union had a lot to worry about after the events of 9/11. When air transportation was shut down, millions of checks could not be processed through normal channels. Southwest Corporate enacted contingency plans to keep the process running. "We, of course, were shocked and stunned by the events that were unfolding in New York and Washington, D.C. Later in the morning, as air transportation was halted, we began to realize that Southwest Corporate's operations would be directly impacted," said Jody Beck, SVP of Operations for the corporate. On a typical day, Southwest Corporate processes an average of about 1.4 million share drafts – that's a lot of items that were in question due to the grounded planes. "Specifically, our item processing facilities in Dallas, Houston and Jacksonville were most impacted. Local share drafts are couriered to our processing facilities. However, about a third of the items are flown into our processing centers. Items from El Paso, for instance, are typically shipped by air to our facility in Dallas. It is a very reliable process," said Eddie Mendoza, director of item processing for Southwest. Beck said with planes grounded it was time to enact the contingency plan, and it only took a couple phone calls. "Because our couriers are responsible for `door to door' service, we were able to monitor the progress made as couriers worked to take advantage of joint ground transportation networking. These arrangements had already been established between service providers to deal with the lack of flight schedules," said Mendoza. Still not all items could be delivered on time, but Southwest decided to pick up the bill instead of passing it on to CUs. "Those items that were affected by the out of the ordinary transportation delays were settled with the presenting financial institutions by Southwest Corporate on behalf of the credit unions. We did not charge credit unions for the settlement until we were able to receive and process the actual items," said Mendoza. "There were additional expenses in driving the work into our operation centers as opposed to flying the work. These additional costs were shared with our transportation provider and ran into the several thousands of dollars over the course of the outage. There were costs of funds to Southwest Corporate by the deferment of collection of 33% of the approximately $250 million share draft dollars settled daily on behalf of our members," said Beck. "We were impacted by 9/11, but it wasn't just operational issues. The tragedy touched us all emotionally. And, it made us redouble our contingency planning. We've just recently overhauled our Contingency Communications Guidelines and have sent copies to all member credit unions. We scheduled a test of the Contingency Communications program for September 4th," said Beck. [email protected]

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