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SAN FRANCISCO – Katrina – and now Rita – have taught credit union executives one valuable lesson and raised several worries: shared branching can be a big help in a disaster and flood insurance on CU property and on member mortgages is a serious void. Commenting on those areas was John Franklin, CUNA’s chief operating officer, during Future Forum. Regarding shared branching, the storms brought in new converts but problems remain “when there’s no power to turn on the ATMs.” Or there are no phones to communicate, said Franklin suggesting examiners will be taking a new look at CU disaster plans and testing of procedures, particularly those in hurricane-prone regions. Despite all the offers of help from CUs, Franklin said there were problems of getting into a disaster zone with assistance for CUs. “Sure you can truck down equipment but where are you going to put it if there’s no gas or electricity?” he asked. And CUs offering volunteer help in CU staffing had to ask “where are my employees going to stay” if the motels are gone.” The only vehicle that might work, he said, “is a self contained RV” that had its own generator and gas supply. Citing the huge losses of small New Orleans CUs, Franklin noted they had no flood insurance and their buildings are gone. Moreover, how are the mortgages on uninsured member homes that are destroyed going to be repaid without foreclosure is a frequent question.

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