When Disaster Strikes

Last Friday, disaster struck southern Indiana in the form of violent tornadoes, with hail the size of tennis balls. The EF4 tornado thrashed communities at 175 miles per hour, leaving a swath of destruction three-quarters-of-a-mile wide.

Indiana Bankers Association Board Chairman Pat Glotzbach is president and CEO of The New Washington State Bank (NWSB), headquartered in Charlestown. The bank has a Henryville branch, which sustained much damage but remains intact. However most of the town of 1,100 was destroyed, as were several surrounding communities.

The majority of those affected in Henryville were customers of NWSB, and Pat’s reaction is what you would expect from a caring community banker. He personally went from shelter to shelter, comforting storm victims and giving assurance that NWSB will extend short-term loans at 0 percent interest. The bank also is offering a discounted mortgage rate for those who will need help rebuilding their lives. Yet Pat’s story is but one of many among several bankers in the area who likewise are reaching out to take care of their customers.

To assist, IBA has set up a disaster relief fund. We will be working with the American Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America, IBA-member banks and associate members to raise funds and distribute them appropriately.

An important lesson to learn from this disaster is how important a viable business continuity plan is to each of our businesses. Oddly enough, at IBA’s executive committee meeting last Thursday, we had determined that the current IBA plan is inadequate. While I am certain that our member banks have sound plans in place, I can tell you from this experience that the emotion of the moment makes it difficult to execute even an adequate plan—let alone struggle with a sketchy one.

I assure you that the IBA will be working on a plan very soon. I ask that all of you review your plans to confirm that you and your team can promptly and efficiently deal with a variety of business interruptions. Then hope that you never have to cope with a disaster like the one in southern Indiana.

Please keep Pat and his fellow area bankers, their customers and all of those affected by the deadly tornadoes in your thoughts and prayers.

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