Disasters may be infrequent, but they are, unfortunately, a fact of life. When disaster strikes, the National Credit Union Administration works with the credit union system to determine which credit unions have been affected by the event and what assistance they may need.
Previously, NCUA staff relied on a manual process to gather and record information related to the operational status of credit unions after an emergency occurred. To improve our response, NCUA recently developed and deployed a new Incident Management System. This system provides real-time, situational awareness that allows NCUA staff to rapidly locate all credit union facilities that may have been affected by a disaster, like a hurricane or a wildfire, and track their operational status throughout the course of a disaster and its recovery.
Both NCUA and credit unions will benefit greatly from this new Incident Management System. The system will not eliminate the need for NCUA field staff to contact credit unions about their operational status during a disaster. That remains an important part of our response plan. Rather, the Incident Management System will streamline the information-sharing process within NCUA, improve our awareness of the number of credit unions affected, reduce the number of times NCUA contacts credit unions during and after a disaster and improve our ability to provide technical assistance to credit unions that may have been affected.
While the Incident Management System uses data from external sources like the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it also uses information found in Credit Union Profiles housed on Credit Union Online. With more than 30,000 credit union facilities scattered across the country, including headquarters, branches, vital records storage areas and disaster recovery facilities, among others, it is essential that all credit unions ensure their CU Online Profile is accurate and up-to-date.
Also, during an emergency NCUA’s field staff will need the following information about your credit union:
- Specific description of damage to credit union facilities, if any;
- Specific member services that are offline, if any;
- An estimate of when the affected location will be re-opening;
- Specific details of any assistance needed from NCUA;
- A contact number for your members if the normal business number is not working; and
- A contact number—like a cell phone or out of area number—that NCUA can use to reach key credit union staff during and after the disaster.
We understand that credit union staff will be busy during and after a disaster. However, having this essential information at the ready will cut down on the amount of follow-up needed by the agency. It also will allow us to better respond to the needs of your credit union.
During a disaster, time is critical. NCUA’s new Incident Management System will greatly improve our ability to help credit unions manage and recover. This in turn, will help credit unions better serve their members and their communities as they recover.