FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ICBA Eyes Regional Preparedness and Recovery Plans
Contingency Plans Enable Community Banks To Reopen Quickly
Washington, D.C. (Sept. 15, 2005) - Unprecedented cooperation and emergency planning enabled many community banks in the Gulf Coast disaster area to reopen quickly and serve customers and evacuees in spite of difficulties presented in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"Community banks responded to the Katrina disaster with unprecedented cooperation and caring. Most community banks quickly resumed operations because of our individual bank contingency plans and the strong bonds that community bankers have with each other and our customers," said Robert I. Gulledge, President and CEO of the $110 million Citizens Bank, Inc. Robertsdale, Ala., whose bank lies just east of the hurricane's path. Gulledge is co-chairing the 12-member ICBA Disaster Task Force that is addressing the short- and long-term challenges facing community banking because of the storm.
"With more than 100 community banks located in the affected disaster area, ICBA and its member community banks moved quickly to support banks' relief and recovery efforts," said Gulledge."
With an eye toward the future, the ICBA Disaster Task Force is considering organizing a regional disaster recovery plan for community banks that could be implemented under similar situations.
"Community banks are working together like never before. We are responding to the needs of our customers and others in need of banking services," said James P. Ghiglieri, Jr, President of Alpha Community Bank, Toluca, Ill and co-chair of the ICBA Disaster Task Force. "Forming regional disaster preparedness networks is a natural extension of what we are seeing informally in the Gulf and would allow community banks and our customers to know ahead of time where the back up operations are."
Community banks are taking several actions to ensure service to customers and evacuees. Among them are waiving ATM fees, easing check-cashing requirements to better serve bank customers, sharing office space with other banks and providing cash for ATMs. ICBA is working with Congress and the regulatory agencies to stimulate rebuilding in the region. A complete list of ICBA's recommendations is posted at www.icba.org/pressroom.