Mon, Aug 29, 2011 - Page 10 News List

US banks scramble to increase cash as Irene approaches

Reuters, NEW YORK

Cash is king in a hurricane, but getting it is another question entirely.

Banks across New York City were making provisions so people will be able to get hard currency yesterday and today, even if Hurricane Irene knocks power out and floods branches.

One of the enduring lessons from the hurricanes of 2005 was that cash is crucial in a storm zone for basic staples, yet often difficult to come by. For example, after Katrina ATMs across New Orleans simply did not work.

With that in mind, people scrambled to ATMs on Friday and Saturday morning across New York and New Jersey, often withdrawing hundreds of US dollars to prepare.

JPMorgan Chase & Co kept its Chase branches open late on Friday night and opened some early on Saturday, though like most every other business in the city they closed early ahead of the 12pm shutdown of regional mass transit systems.

However, the bank has extra “cash packs” ready to supply branches this morning and could deploy mobile ATMs, which are wireless and run on battery power, in hard-hit areas like the financial district of lower Manhattan.

Bank of America Corp said on Saturday it might do much the same thing, but on a larger scale.

The bank has commercial trucks with generators and built-in ATMs, both smaller cash-only units and full feature machines that allow deposits. It also has mobile branches — effectively trailer homes — with teller windows and offices.

Across the board, other major New York banks also said they had taken extra precautions.

“Capital One Bank topped off all of our ATMs prior to the closure of our branches in the Northeast. In addition, we have made appropriate preparations to reload cash if ATMs begin to run low of cash,” Capital One spokesman Steve Schooff said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Toronto Dominion’s TD Bank unit said it had been monitoring cash flows and refilling ATMs as necessary.

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