Emergency Preparedness for Credit Unions

Four questions to ask yourself should your credit union need to prepare for emergency conditions now or in the future.

9/12/17

This article was written by our Strategic Link partner, CUNA Mutual Group.

As we all turn our focus to the recovery that’s underway after Hurricane Harvey, evacuations are underway in regions in the path of Hurricane Irma. So, disaster preparedness is an active concern for many of the credit unions we serve.

Since recovery lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey may be useful to your or any credit union, we’re sharing a few here.

We’ve collected a few of the many challenges we’ve observed into four questions to ask yourself as you begin preparing for emergency conditions your credit union may face now or in the future:

How will you access and provide access to cash?

As people return home to survey, repair, and recover after a natural disaster like Harvey, they’ll need access to cash. Do you have contracts and plans in place with vendors to deliver it to your branch? Do you have a vendor who can bring in mobile ATMs? Activating plans like these quickly will make a vital difference for the people, businesses, and families you serve.

Do you have an alternate location for serving members?

What if your branch or branches are so heavily damaged that serving members isn’t possible? Do you have a plan for setting up shop somewhere else? Do you have contracts in place to activate a temporary physical location for your offices? Or, do you have agreements with another area credit unions to share branches? This can be key in preventing service interruptions for members who will need your help.

Can you activate alternate staffing?

In the case of a hurricane, it’s important to keep in mind that the people who work in and for your credit union may be personally impacted by conditions like flood damage to their homes. Do you have a plan for alternate staffing? This can be vital to your ability to serve members in the days and weeks following a natural disaster.  While working remotely may be an option for some employees, it’s not a guarantee for all — especially if their homes experience power interruptions or damage to their communications infrastructure.

How will you communicate with members?

Knowing how you’ll reach out and stay connected with members before, during, and after a disaster is critical. Do you have a plan that maps out how and what you’ll communicate? How will you let members know the ways they can access cash and funds? They’ll need it to cover things like gas, food, lodging, cleanup supplies, and more. Do you know how they can connect with relief efforts? This can be life-changing information for people and families faced with unexpected expenses.

For credit unions — or anyone — being prepared for a disaster isn’t easy. But, there are plenty of people ready to help you prepare and recover when the unexpected happens. CUNA Mutual Group’s team is one of many, many work groups who has been working with affected Texans, as well as credit unions who are anticipating what Irma will bring.

The National Credit Union Administration provides Disaster Recovery information and resources for credit unions and consumers in a dedicated site you can find here.

For the credit unions CUNA Mutual Group serves, they also provide emergency preparedness training, information, and bulletins through their Disaster Recovery website.

Questions about our Strategic Link partnership with CUNA Mutual Group? Contact Jason Smith, Northwest Credit Union Association’s Vice President, Strategic Resources, at jsmith@nwcua.org.