By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Nearly half of BancorpSouth’s locations are under the careful watch of Chris Axton, the bank’s business continuity manager, as Isaac heads toward the Gulf Coast.
Some 130 branches, stretching from Nacogdoches, Texas, to Destin, Fla., could be affected by the tropical storm/hurricane.
With Katrina still fresh on everybody’s mind – the 2005 storm destroyed several BancorpSouth locations on the Gulf Coast – bank officials are taking no chances.
Tupelo-based BancorpSouth has some 300 locations in nine states, but most are in the Gulf states.
Axton has been eyeing Isaac for quite some time.
“We started tracking it two weeks ago,” he said.
The bank’s emergency operations command center monitors every location, and was activated last Thursday as it became clear Isaac was making its way toward the Gulf.
Response teams have been mobilized, and large mobile generators are on standby to go where needed. Axton and some of his team met again Sunday.
“We came in Sunday, gathered bottled water, filled up the small generator and some gas cans and got it ready, too,” he said.
Randy Burchfield, BancorpSouth’s senior vice president of marketing, said the business continuity team is working with state emergency management officials, as well as monitoring the storm on its own.
As of Monday afternoon, only one branch was closed due to the storm.
“Our Seagrove location near Destin is closed, but today, we’ll be closing our Baton Rouge offices at 2 p.m. and they’ll stay closed Wednesday,” Burchfield said.
Any other branch closings – and openings – will be determined based on Isaac’s track, he added.
Emergency management officials advise people in the path of the storm to gather emergency supplies, as well as have cash ready in case electricity goes out.
Burchfield said the bank’s locations and ATMs are able to handle the influx of activity.
“We’re prepared,” he said. “As part of our emergency preparation plans, those are some of the items we address. I feel like we’re fine.”