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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Greensburg banks get creative

Three banks in the tornado-ravaged town find ways to do business, even without their buildings.

BY JERRY SIEBENMARK
The Wichita Eagle

On Monday, Chris Ballard and Tom Corns opened Greensburg State Bank.

Except on this day they were operating it from under a 10-by-12-foot canopy that Ballard put up in front of the bank's only building, which was damaged by Friday night's tornado.

Ballard called it "banking al fresco."

"The main lobby area and offices are basically destroyed," said Ballard, a senior vice president for the bank. "The vault is OK and the safe deposit boxes and records, they are fine."

More important, Ballard said, so are the bank's dozen or so employees.

"They're all OK," he said. "There were no casualties, injuries, fortunately."

Greensburg State, like the two other banks in Greensburg, is finding other ways to do business after Friday's tornado.

Jay Meyer is senior vice president of Sublette-based Centera Bank, which also operates a Greensburg branch with about half a dozen employees. He said Monday that the bank was directing Greensburg customers to use its online banking service or its branches in Dodge City and Minneola.

He said the bank, whose Greensburg branch was damaged, was also planning to have a Centera representative in Haviland at the Haviland State Bank beginning today.

"We've fielded quite a few calls (from Greensburg customers) today," Meyer said Monday. "Some of them are just checking in and making sure their money is still there. It is."

Centera and the Peoples Bank, a Pratt-based bank that also had a branch in Greensburg, eventually plan to work jointly out of a temporary bank facility in Greensburg.

"We're arranging for delivery but we don't have a firm date for delivery yet," said Porter Loomis, president of Peoples Bank.

Loomis said his bank's Greensburg branch was destroyed but its four employees there were unharmed.

On Saturday, Peoples kept its Pratt branch open all day, and it opened for four hours on Sunday.

"We did have a number of (Greensburg) customers come in, and they really worked through a variety of situations, from cashing checks to talking with them about how their loans will be handled going forward," Loomis said. "It was a very gratifying experience because you can start to make a small dent in what they are working through."

Peoples Bank also planned to have a representative in the Banco Insurance building in Haviland today.

Officials from all three banks said their customers' information and accounts were unaffected by the storm because the data is computer-based and not stored in Greensburg.

Tom Thull, state banking commissioner, said he was expecting to get an order from the governor Monday allowing his office to expedite approvals for things such as new bank branches.

He said all banks are required to have contingency plans for disasters and that has helped the Greensburg banks.

Still, Thull said, "I don't think one realistically plans for the entire town blowing away."

NOW YOU KNOW

BANKS IN GREENSBURG

• Greensburg State Bank, 620-408-8491 (temporary number)

• Centera Bank, 800-309-8611

• The Peoples Bank, 800-362-2625cq

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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