Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Katrina and Counting: Lessons from a Hurricane

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Katrina and Counting: Lessons from a Hurricane

Article excerpt

KATRINA'S PATH OF DEVASTATION through New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast last year made her the costliest--and one of the five deadliest-hurricanes ever to strike our mainland.

Two weeks after Katrina struck, Mac Deaver, executive director of the Mississippi Bankers Association, testified for ABA before a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee. "Hurricane Katrina caused loss of life, damage to property, and interruption of businesses and services on a scale never seen before in our state and in our neighboring states of Louisiana and Alabama," Deaver said. He added that bankers, many of whom suffered personal loss themselves, "were called upon to quickly reopen their institutions to provide financial services to the public in this most critical time and to help support a larger recovery."

Just as Katrina's devastation was immense, so too was her impact on emergency preparedness. In some ways Katrina is rewriting the book on modern-day hurricane response. We should not ignore the lessons.

A month after Katrina struck, I announced creation of a joint ABA-state banker association task force to apply some of those lessons to help bankers prepare for future emergencies. Banks are required to have emergency plans in place, and many do an excellent job of this. Our task force's goal was to help banks be even better prepared-regardless of the kind of emergency--to protect the financial assets of customers, provide relief when necessary and help in the rebuilding and recovery.

Austin Roberts, president and CEO, Bank of Lancaster, Kilmarnock, Va., headed the task force. Other members of the group were directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina, including Guy Williams, president of Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Co. …

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