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WASHINGTON-Numerous credit union organizations are taking steps to help deal with the potential consequences of Hurricane Isabel, which is currently targeting the Mid-Atlantic region stretching from Maryland to North Carolina. Tropical storm warnings have been issued from New Jersey to South Carolina. The Maryland Credit Union League is offering aid to its member credit unions, should the storm affect institutions this far north. “With Hurricane Isabel threatening the Mid-Atlantic region, now is the time to take a look at your emergency preparedness and disaster recover plans,” a league e-mail stated. “The storm may bring us nothing more than heavy rain showers and some breezy winds, but it always pays to prepare for the worst.” The North Carolina Credit Union Network has faxed a memo to all North Carolina credit unions with information on emergency contact phone numbers and how to get assistance as necessary, according to the league president’s executive assistant, Frances Moore. The Virginia Credit Union League had cancelled the Hike the Hill event at Credit Union House in Washington, D.C. it had scheduled for Sept. 18 as a precaution, according to League President Rick Pillow. However, its statewide Legislative Forum went on as planned Sept. 17. Representatives from all three state leagues said they have no plans to close early, even as many schools and other entities in the affected states are dark and empty. Other than some shared branches in the Virginia Beach area, none of the leagues reported any credit union closings either as of deadline. Emergency phone numbers for the leagues were also made available. Navy Federal Credit Union, with nine branches in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area, is one of the credit unions in Isabel’s path. On-base branches have been instructed to follow base command instructions as far as closings, according to Navy Federal Credit Union Spokesperson Loren Moeller. “Things like this are not new to Navy Federal,” she said, pointing out that the credit union has branches in Okinawa, Japan that gets bombarded by typhoons annually between June and September, including one a couple weeks ago. On Dec. 9, 2002, the credit union’s branch on Guam was demolished by a hurricane, but was back up and running at a temporary location within a few days. Its branches in Southern California are shook up often by earthquakes, which cannot even be predicted like a hurricane, Moeller noted. The $19 billion credit union’s headquarters, located in Merrifield, Va., has already been stocked with extra fuel for its generators in case the power goes out for an extended period of time. It has also republished its hazardous weather procedures. The headquarters planned to let non-essential employees out early on Sept. 18 and has a hotline for employees to learn who had to report to work and who could stay home Sept. 19. CUNA Mutual has a catastrophe team assembled from its Credit Union Protection Division in Madison, according to Media Relations Senior Manager Rick Uhlmann. The team stands at the ready to handle hurricane damage reports and claims and has communicated with field staff in the affected areas so they know whom to contact. In addition, CUNA Mutual’s claims staff is working with local catastrophe adjusters to expedite claims for any affected credit unions. As far as preparation, CUNA Mutual has referred credit unions to rely on the advice of local weather and law enforcement officials. [email protected]

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