Magazine article American Banker

L.A. Banks Are near Normal after Quake

Magazine article American Banker

L.A. Banks Are near Normal after Quake

Article excerpt

Two weeks after the Los Angeles earthquake, bank operations in the region have largely returned to normal, but several branches and operations of major banks remain closed with extensive structural damage.

A Wells Fargo & Co. branch in Chatsworth, near the quake's epicenter, remains closed. "The jury is still out on whether they'll work on it or demolish it," said spokeswoman Kathleen Shilkret.

Wells Fargo has opened a temporary branch in a trailer at the site.

100 Branches Affected

Wells, like other banks with operations in the region, says it is still calculating the cost of the damage. The earthquake's overall economic toll has been estimated at $30 billion, making it the most costly disaster in the nation's history.

The quake, which registered 6.6 on the Richter scale, shook Los Angeles on Jan. 17, when banks were closed to observe Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. The next day, about 100 branches were shuttered.

Most reopened during the week, as electric power was restored and the debris removed. Banks report that nearly all of the cash machines in the affected area are now working.

But in the hard-hit Northridge area -- the quake's epicenter -- it's not yet business as usual.

At First Interstate Bankcorp's credit card processing facility in Simi Valley, walls were ripped from their foundation and burst pipes spewed water over computers.

Longer Work Days

"We're going to be out of there indefinitely," said Rich Wyler, a bank spokesman. …

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