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MADISON, Wis. — Here’s a lesson to be learned from last September’s Hurricane Ike: credit union managers need to prepare 2009 disaster plans now “even while the news is on the troubled economy.”That was the advice from CUNA Mutual Group in a year-end assessment of property losses from the devastating storm as staffers warn CEOs and directors make sure disaster plans are in good order in light of communication and logistical flaws that surfaced during Ike.Too many CU executives are still giving lip service to disaster planning or have “only a shell of a plan in place,” warned Michael Retelle, manager of CMG’s Property and Casualty Claims Unit.“Disasters do not wait and paying attention to disaster planning only when the issue is in the media or regulators bring it to your attention is too late,” he added.As Ike plowed across the Texas coast and Galveston Island, many small communities suffered and left CU regulators complaining of their lack of preparation. Some CUs were criticized by regulators for failing to have adequate generator power, emergency communication equipment or give adequate notice to members on branch closings.“Although disaster planning is a topic the NCUA and individual state regulators will continue to emphasize in 2009, it still gets too little attention until a major event occurs,” said Retelle.The lessons from Hurricane Ike, he said, “demonstrate anew disaster planning was put on a task list, as a topic to be discussed later when more time was available.” That philosophy needs to change, he concluded.–[email protected]

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