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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Technicians from PM Systems help establish a virtual private network, a new data lifeline, for a stricken Mississippi credit union, while visitors from Louisiana make themselves a new home away from home at Jack Henry backup hot sites in Alabama and Texas. That’s just two examples of the myriad ways the technology providers are helping their credit union clients recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The needs are as widespread as the destruction. “We’re providing just about anything and everything you can think of,” says Doug Barton, manager of Indiana-based Centurion Disaster Recovery, a Jack Henry & Co. division with backup sites across the country, including in Birmingham, Ala., and Allen, Texas. “Some credit unions just needed telephone support, others need us to send them servers or other equipment, or help them find generators, while others are physically in our centers because they need a place to operate from,” he says. “What they need, we do.” The support is both material and personal, Barton adds. “There’s a human element to this. Some of our people working on the phone with these folks, when they get off, they’re almost in tears,” he says. “You feel so bad for the situation they’re in, but it does make you feel good that you can help. “It’s moral support, and it makes me proud to be part of this industry, when I see how willing so many people are to back each other up through all this.” Credit unions and other financial institutions also are using the services of backup sites belonging to industry giant SunGard – where a spokeswoman says 25 customers are now up and running on site and 46 more have said they may be on the way – and to John F. Harland Co., whose Harland Financial Solutions unit has hundreds of CU clients on the ULTRADATA platform and other software. “Our priority is to help our customers, employees and their families recover from this horrific event,” says HFS President John O’Malley. “We have established a centralized communication procedure within Harland to coordinate and dispatch any assistance required to aid in business continuity for our customers and the personal recovery efforts of our colleagues.” The parent company also has been working to contact and help credit union clients of its various subsidiaries, including its printed products division, which serves thousands of credit unions across the country with checks, forms and other materials. The hurricane has caused unplanned address changes and delivery difficulties, says John Pensec, vice president of corporate communications and community relations for the Atlanta-based company. The U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and other couriers have suspended delivery in many areas, and change of addresses typically require an in-office visit that now has to be handled differently. “Harland is working with its financial institutions on the needed authorizations to make this happen,” Pensec says. “From a financial forms perspective, we are ready to support credit unions with rush delivery of forms once their branches are back in operation.” Meanwhile, South Carolina-based online banking and security provider PM Systems Corp. has been helping its Gulf Coast clients rebuild their data communications and keep them secure. For instance, Navigator Credit Union (www.navigatorcu.org) lost its headquarters in Pascagoula, Miss., and staffers with PM System’s CU Defense unit are helping the $197 million credit union set up at the SunGard disaster recovery facility in Atlanta, says PM Systems Vice President Robert Broadwell, adding that his company is waiving its recurring monthly charges for that CU indefinitely until it recovers. And Atlanta-based Powerco FCU’s (www.powerco.org) Gulfport, Miss., facility was severely damaged and PM Systems helped restore data communications through a VPN tunnel to an alternate facility for that $180 million CU, Broadwell says. Credit unions also are joining together to stay afloat. One example: The 18,000 members of Jefferson Parish School Board Employees’ Credit Union now can do business again, thanks to a fellow AFTECH core processing client up in Baton Rouge. The suburban New Orleans community was among those left underwater by the flooding in the Crescent City and the $109 million CU has set up shop at $104 million Pelican State Credit Union in the capital city. “Right now all of the Jefferson Parish credit union’s electronic services – their Web site, home banking, audio response and ATM and shared branching – are up and running through our service bureau operation,” says Dick McConnell, vice president of marketing for AFTECH in Malvern, Pa. McConnell says a call center-type operation for Jefferson Parish School Board ECU is being set up at Pelican State and that a fully-staged computer and other equipment will soon be in place so Jefferson Parish School Board ECU “can again be an in-house credit union, just in a different house,” McConnell says. Indeed, core processing and other technology may be at the heart of the physical infrastructure of the credit union industry, but there’s another core, one industry participant observes. “Times like this show how it’s not just vendors here and credit unions over here,” says Mickey Goldwasser, vice president of product marketing and communications for Open Solutions Inc. in Glastonbury, Conn. “We’re really all part of the movement, and what’s going on now goes to the core of what we all are . people who want to help.” Goldwasser says his company was fortunate not to have any customers seriously damaged by the storm and is encouraging its employees to make donations to the aid effort, which OSI will match. “We held our own major conference in New Orleans two years ago and have developed relationships there, and it’s surreal to see what’s happened.” “And now, this has all really turned from the shock and awe of the devastation to how we can help make it better.” -

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