Bank offices were closed Wednesday in southern Louisiana after Hurricane Andrew slammed into the coast.

Initial reports suggested that most damaged occurred in Morgan City, near where the storm touched land about 10 p.m. Tuesday, and in La Place, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge. New Orleans was largely spared.

New Orleans-based Hibernia Corp., the state's largest banking company, reported about half its 100 Louisiana branches out of commission Wednesday morning.

|We Were Really Lucky'

Kirk Domingos, executive vice president for administration, said Hibernia's offices in Lafayette and Baton Rouge were closed but half its 40 New Orleans branches were operating.

"We were really lucky," said Mr. Domingos. "That thing could have come through here and just caused all kinds of problems."

Mr. Domingos said New Orleans experienced severe wind and rain Wednesday, which caused street flooding and power outages. But Hibernia's operations center continued functioning throughout the storm, and the bank expected to reopen branches later in the day as electricity was restored.

Getting Back to Business

"In New Orleans, we had virtually zero damage," Mr. Domingos said, adding that he expected all the company's New Orleans branches to be operating at full capacity today.

By Wednesday afternoon, the hurricane had become a spent force as it worked its way north from the coast and was downgrade to a tropical storm. But Baton Rouge, the state capitol, was buffered by winds that reached 70 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, the New Orleans branch office of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta resumed normal operations after check processing was disrupted by the New Orleans airport's closing Tuesday night, a spokeswoman said.

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