Atlanta Fed Operations Withstand Katrina’s Might
When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, the widespread destruction tested the Sixth Federal Reserve District’s operations in unprecedented ways. While the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s New Orleans Branch sustained only minimal damage and no flooding, damage to the city’s essential infrastructure such as water and power services closed the branch for four weeks after the hurricane. The Sixth District’s cash and check operations faced difficult challenges in responding to the disaster.
Just before and after the hurricane hit, mass evacuations and power outages initially increased the demand for cash in the area served by the New Orleans Branch: southern Louisiana and Mississippi, Mobile and coastal Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. To meet that demand, the Sixth District’s contingency plans helped banks maintain sufficient volumes of coin and currency while the branch was closed.
Likewise, business continuity and resumption plans allowed checks from the Gulf Coast area, normally handled in New Orleans, to be processed through the head office in Atlanta.