Disaster Plans Ready for 'Frankenstorm' Sandy
The Category 1 (75 mph winds) hurricane threatens 60 million people in an area 800 miles wide. It is less about strength than longevity and the unusual situation of its pending collision with a cold front from the Northwest and a high pressure system from Greenland in what forecasters believe could be "the perfect storm" over a wide area in a densely populated area (The New York Times Oct. 28).
Governors of states from North Carolina to Connecticut have declared states of emergency for the storm, ordering tens of thousands of residents to evacuate (The Wall Street Journal Oct. 28).
On Friday, CUNA Mutual Group activated its claims disaster team and the National Credit Union Administration issued warnings to take precautions for the Category 1 hurricane.
"In preparation for Hurricane Sandy, CUNA Mutual Group's Property and Casualty (P&C) Claims Disaster Team has been activated and will monitor the storm over the weekend," CUNA Mutual told News Now Friday.
"Our staff will be contacting the credit union leagues in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, District of Columbia, North Carolina and Virginia to advise them CUNA Mutual Group is concerned with the impact Sandy may have on their credit unions," said Philip Tschudy, media relations manager for CUNA Mutual Group.
"We will provide them with the names and contact information for our P&C claims staff members who will be ready to assist them. We will also ask they notify us of credit unions that have been or may be impacted by Sandy. As always, credit unions can reach CUNA Mutual Group's toll-free disaster hotline at 800-637-2672. The phone line is answered live by a claims staff person 24/7," he said.
At least two leagues--Pennsylvania and New Jersey--included the names of CUNA Mutual's team in their member newsletters Friday. CUNA Mutual's disaster relief team can be reached at 800-356-2644 at these extensions:
- Michael McKinley, ext. 6656737;
- Jim Voosberg, ext. 6658961
- Barb Nemec, ext. 6656644;
- Rose Motelet, ext. 6658490; and
- Mike Retelle, ext. 6657618.
The National Credit Union Administration also issued a statement to credit unions late Friday afternoon urging credit unions to be prepared. (See related News Now story: "NCUA alerts CUs to prepare as Sandy approaches.")
The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) reported to its credit unions Sunday evening that PCUA's offices will be closed today. "Due to Hurricane Sandy, Gov. [Tom] Corbett and Harrisburg City Mayor [Linda D.] Thompson have declared state of emergencies," PCUA explained. PCUA provided emergency assistance numbers for account executives, compliance, and cards staff. "Non-emergency calls can be left on the appropriate staff person's voice mail for them to return the call the next available business day," said PCUA.
The Credit Union National Association's Washington, D.C., office is located in the area projected to be impacted. Sunday's weather alerts for nearby Arlington, Va., projected heavy rain and damaging winds to begin late Sunday night with the peak of the storm hitting the area this morning through Tuesday morning. That area was expecting between five and 10 inches of rain; possible localized flooding on area streets, low-lying areas, creeks and streams; and sustained north winds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 60 mph late last night through Tuesday.
"With a prolonged 24- to 36-hour high wind event coupled with heavy rain, the region can expect significant tree damage. Residents, businesses and visitors should plan for widespread power outages as a result," said the High Wind Watch issued Sunday morning by the National Weather Service.
As of early Sunday evening, Hurricane Sandy was doing exactly what weather forecasters predicted, battering Cape Hatteras, N.C. , and Nag's Head, N.C., some 575 miles from New York City, and producing 14-foot waves in Wilmington, N.C., even though the hurricane's eye was 250 miles out to sea, said the Weather Channel and the Journal. In reporting from Nag's Head, Julie Martin of the Weather Channel said that "this is a long-duration event. We've experienced tropical storm winds for 17 hours so far and it has been unrelenting." She added there has been half a foot of "hard, stinging rains."
Sandy is expected to come ashore in the New Jersey late today or early Tuesday. Areas such as Delaware, New Jersey and New York and Connecticut, are expecting a foot of rain and 75 mph winds as well as a four- to eight-foot tidal surge along the shoreline.
Inland states also are also being affected. Thirty-three counties in four states--West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina--were under a winter storm watch and already experiencing what is expected to become two feet or more of snow from the cold front moving from the Northwest.
Hurricane Sandy is historic, said the Hurricane Weather Center in Miami, Fla., because of its projected size, expected duration, and impact on affect one fourth of the nation. Even if didn't hit with the impact expected, it still will have created havoc in terms of evacuation orders, transportation shutdowns, and closures of business, including credit unions. And it will affect more than the area's economy.
Other key announcements:
- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday ordered the evacuation of lower Manhattan and other low-lying neighborhoods. New York subways, buses and trains stopped running at 7 p.m. Sunday and the schools are closed today, affecting the city's 1.1 million students, said the Journal. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the current plan is to shut down transit until Wednesday, with transit resuming about 12 hours after Sandy passes the city (Reuters.com Oct. 28).
- The New York Stock Exchange and the New York Merchantile Exchange shut their trading floors today and will remain closed until given the all-clear. However, trading would continue online throughout the storm, they said.
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie shut down Atlantic City's 12 casinos and warned of a potential shutdown of the New Jersey Transit System, said the Journal and Reuters. The Virginia National Guard was authorized to call up 500 troops for debris removal and clearing roads, said the Journal.
- On Sunday, more than 3,000 U.S. flights were cancelled, with 2,500 more flights expected to be cancelled today. Oil refineries were debating Sunday whether to shut down six East Coast refineries--1.19 million barrels a day or 7% of total U.S. capacity (Reuters.com).
- Last week, Hurricane Sandy killed at least 65 people in the Caribbean--Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas.