The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York lost its headquarters in Tuesdays attacks on the World Trade Center, but its 120 employees are safe, and the bank was open for business Wednesday in a makeshift office across the Hudson River.
The $80 billion-asset bank had occupied the 22d floor in Building 7, the third of the three to collapse. By Wednesday morning the government-sponsored entity had relocated operations to its back-up facility in Jersey City for the first time since the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993.
My message to our members is that we are up and running and that we will be available to them, said Alfred A. DelliBovi, the banks president.
The hot site, as the back-up facility is called, contains computers, phones, fax lines, and, most important to the Home Loan Banks 300 customers in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, back-up copies of all documents.
The office isnt designed for everybody, Mr. DelliBovi said, so some employees were working from home, and some sales officers set up shop in the Cranford, N.J., headquarters of the New Jersey League-Community and Savings Bankers.
Speaking Wednesday from his home in Chappaqua, N.Y., Mr. DelliBovi said that most of the banks employees were at their desks when the first building was struck, but that they did not evacuate immediately because the situation did not seem that dangerous. However, the floor was evacuated when the second building was hit, he said.
Unfortunately, weve been through this before, Mr. DelliBovi said. We had a dry run on Feb. 26, 1993, when a bomb exploded in the World Trade Center parking garage, killing six people.
Mr. DelliBovi said that roughly 25% of the banks employees already worked at the Jersey City office, and that there is room to triple its space there. No decision had been made on whether the Home Loan Bank will expand in Jersey City or seek office space elsewhere, he added.
All 12 banks in the Federal Home Loan Bank System have back-up facilities in place so that they can continue to serve members if disaster strikes their main offices, said Malin Jennings, a spokeswoman for the Council of Federal Home Loan Banks. In fact, at least two other Home Loan banks evacuated headquarters Tuesday and relocated employees to hot sites.
Melissa Dallas, a spokeswoman for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, said bank officials decided Tuesday morning to shift operations to its facility in a Blue Ash, Ohio, industrial park after news reports that a fourth plane, leaving Newark and bound for San Francisco, had been hijacked. The $59 billion-asset bank occupies two floors in a 20-story office building in downtown Cincinnati.
We decided to put this into play when we heard that one of the planes had made a sharp turn in Cleveland, because we had no idea where it was headed, Ms. Dallas said. She added that the bank has held dry runs at the hot site, 20 miles from downtown primarily in the months leading up to the year 2000 but that this was the first time we really put it to the test.
Employees of the Cincinnati Home Loan Bank returned to the downtown office on Wednesday.
The Chicago Home Loan Bank in downtown Chicago was also evacuated Tuesday. Employees were moved to the $41 billion-asset banks back-up office near OHare Airport, but they too were back at headquarters Wednesday.