ALEXANDRIA, Va.-NCUA is beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel in the immediate recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina. “I am very encouraged as of today,” NCUA Executive Director Len Skiles told Credit Union Times Sept. 14. “I am thinking by the end of the week we’ll have all the credit unions up and operational.” He said that as of the 14th, NCUA had just five credit unions, representing $1.5 million in assets and 1,800 members, that were not yet operational. NCUA only did not have records for one credit union as of last week, but Skiles was hopeful that would be remedied soon. Keith Morton has been serving as acting regional director for Region IV, as Jane Walters assists in recovery efforts from NCUA’s Alexandria, Va.-headquarters. “We’ve made real good progress despite the gloom and doom,” he said. Right now, he said he has two staff members on the ground in New Orleans under protection from the Louisiana National Guard trying to recover data processing systems of some of the credit unions. One of his staffers had been in the guard and his younger brother was still serving, which gave the agency an inside connection. Morton and Skiles both said that this is just a first push to get operations restored. The agency has also helped the credit unions it regulates by purchasing computers for some to get them back up and running, as well as hiring manpower to help run the credit unions. Down the road, NCUA is working to maximize the reestablishment of full operations. In the meantime, credit unions are also helping themselves by forming partnerships, working with vendors and using alternative sites to deliver services. Recovery will take months and years to come, according to Morton. In the coming months, he said basic necessities will be taken care of, but economic viability of some of the impacted credit unions will be decided over the next couple years. The NCUA Board has been in constant contact with its top staff, as well as national credit union trade associations and the state leagues to discuss rapid response. “Working together, credit unions are once again answering the call of service to assist their members in this time of need,” NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson said. “The recovery effort will require diligence on everyone’s part and we value the good work of the entire credit union community in this cause.” “The hurricane relief effort is an opportunity for credit unions to shine, by demonstrating the high-quality service that is the hallmark of credit unions,” NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz commented. “Our goal should be to ensure that credit union members get through this extraordinary disaster feeling fortunate that they had an account at a credit union.” NCUA’s top executives have been working hard to assure credit union members that their deposits are safely insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund up to $100,000. The NCUSIF is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government. Skiles admitted that the hurricane will present challenges to shake credit unions at their core, such as liquidity, decline in assets, impact on capital, and even closure. However, credit unions have proven resilient to past challenges, and the agency is confident that this disaster will be no exception. [email protected]

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