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ALEXANDRIA, Va.-NCUA is trying to aid with the recovery of credit unions affected by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina from a number of perspectives. With the president’s declaration of parts of Louisiana and Texas as major disaster areas following Hurricane Rita’s strike nearly two weeks ago now, NCUA swung into action instituting its disaster assistance response. Primarily, NCUA is focused on 50 credit unions in Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas, and Lake Charles, La. that have aggregate assets of $1.9 billion and 320,000 members. In addition, eight credit unions displaced by Katrina were also impacted by Rita. According to NCUA Executive Director Len Skiles, five of those credit unions-all in Texas-have not been contacted as of deadline. “I would have to say it’s moving OK. I would feel much better once we have those five contacted,” he commented. Of the credit unions contacted, 29 were fully- or partly-operational and represent 92% of the affected assets and 84% of the members. Sixteen others were expected to be up and running shortly. The weekend Rita hit, he said calls to NCUA’s hurricane hotline had diminished from Katrina’s peak but there was “still a fairly strong call volume;” the call center handled 156 calls on Monday, Sept. 26. NCUA has announced that it is willing to work with the credit unions in the Hurricane Katrina affected areas that are having difficulty filing their 5300 Call Reports on time. The agency acknowledged that post offices are out in New Orleans and other cities south and east of the Crescent City. Additionally, other affected credit unions are facing separate challenges in the aftermath of Katrina. NCUA assured the credit unions that Region III and IV would work closely with the affected credit unions having difficulty meeting the Oct. 24 deadline for the September reports. “There is no useful purpose to go in and examine those credit unions right when they’re trying to get back on their feet,” Skiles explained. On Friday, Sept. 23, prior to Rita’s landfall early the next morning, NCUA distributed a Public Service Announcement assuring federally insured credit union members that their deposit accounts are insured up to $100,000 per account. The PSA states that NCUA, through the NCUSIF, insures member-accounts of 8,871 credit unions nationwide, including all the credit unions in Louisiana and Texas. “NCUSIF is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government,” it reads. The executive director was unsure whether the local radio stations and newspapers had picked up the PSA and he is talking with the external affairs office as to whether the agency should go ahead and take out advertisements in the local newspapers. During disaster conditions, NCUA personnel operate under three priorities:1) Ensure the safety of credit union staff;2) Keep facilities and operation available to members; and 3) Provide material and technical assistance to affected credit unions. [email protected]

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