Post-Katrina moves helped banks weather the storm after Isaac, says state banking official
By Ted Knutson
WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Post-Hurricane Katrina disaster preparations helped banks weather the storm after last week’s Hurricane Isaac, Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions (Bank) Division Chief Examiner Sid Seymour told Thomson Reuters Monday.
“After Katrina in 2005, some bank locations were closed for weeks. But Isaac came in on the 29th, we had banks in the coastal parishes that were closed that day, on the next, bank staffers were doing damage (recovery) the next day and the day after, most locations were reopen,” the head state bank examiner said.
Part of the success, said Seymour, was that state banks designated disaster teams and made sure they were on site when the need arose.
“If you don’t have a designated recovery team, what is likely to happen when a voluntary or mandatory evacuation notice is given is everyone going to want to leave and pick up kids, go to the store to pick up supplies and board up their windows. But if everyone from a financial institution leaves, there is not going to be anyone left in the bank to implement the plan,” he said.
The vulnerability of banks in the Gulf of Mexico coastal regions of Louisiana was less than after Katrina because then, institutions didn’t have branches or other facilities such as information technology or loan-production offices that could be used to help in disaster recovery, Seymour said.
“The biggest part was making sure there was sufficient back-up of data outside the impacted area,” he said.
Since Katrina, the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions has held five or six meetings annually with banks in hurricane-prone regions of the state and a wide range of government agencies that could help them get up and running after a calamity. These ranged from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to the Louisiana State Police to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Meetings were also held regularly with banks further inland that played major roles in assisting Gulf Coast banks after the 2005 hurricane.
Seymour called Isaac “Katrina lite.”
“There were evacuations, but not anywhere near like Katrina,” the state official said.
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