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Mississippi Bank's Disaster Recovery Plan Stepped Up With New Technology Center

While FEMA is no better prepared for a major hurricane today than it was when Katrina struck in September 2005, one bank has taken it upon itself to be prepared for future crises.

While FEMA is no better prepared for a major hurricane today than it was when Katrina struck in September 2005, one bank has taken it upon itself to be prepared for future crises.On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Gulfport, Miss.-based Hancock Bank dedicated a new state-of-the-art technology center. The 37,390-square foot self-sustaining center safeguards Hancock's critical operations.

Hancock learned its lesson the hard way during Katrina, when it's former technology center was destroyed. The bank has poured $16 million and nine months into building this new center. More importantly, it moved it 10 miles inland and built eight-inch thick reinforced concrete exterior walls. The building can now withstand winds of more than 200 mph, the bank says.

Following Katrina, many of the affected banks' efforts to get up and running were hampered by the fact that their back-up sites were located too close to their primary locations. As a result, the FFIEC recommended that banks reevaluate their backup site locations.

Prior to Katrina, banks were required to have disaster recovery plans in place, but as we witnessed, many of these plans were merely documents that didn't transfer into realistic strategies during the crisis. It's good to see a bank setting an example. While a robust, self sufficient data center is only one part of a complete post-Katrina disaster recovery plan, it's a huge step that banks, both inside and outside of the Katrina affected areas, should be pursuing.

With the new technology center, Hancock seems to have taken steps to ensure that it will be prepared for the next disaster when it arrives. Other emergency features include:

• A high-tech command center for monitoring storms with real-time national and international reports.

• Two cooling units, an 8,000-gallon chilled water tank, and a redundant continuous-flow pump system that regulate ideal temperatures for a computer room and network operations center resting on 5,400 square feet of raised flooring.

• A back-up system comprising 120 continuously monitored 20-year batteries generating 360 kilowatts of power and a three-phase, continuously online solid-state uninterruptible power system (UPS) operate in conjunction with the building's standard electrical system to ensure constant conditioned power for critical systems if commercial utilities fail.

• A doubled-lined 25,000-gallon tank equipped with a continuous recycler and emergency alarm fuels dual 820-kilowatt stand-by generators designed for automatic operation during power failures lasting almost a month.

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