First State Bank, Waynesboro, Miss., said it was able to use a new image-based proof of deposit system to quickly reconstruct a cash letter destroyed during a recent rainstorm.

On May 8, at the onset of a storm that ultimately dumped 17 inches of rain, First State had forwarded a cash letter that included about 7,300 checks valued at $3 million to the Federal Reserve branch in New Orleans.

During the three-hour trip to New Orleans, the cash letter's courier stalled in a flash flood, which soaked the truck's cargo.

After being notified by the New Orleans Fed of a "problem" with the checks, bank officials rushed to New Orleans to determine if the cash letter was salvageable.

"When I looked those checks, my heart sank," said Don Story, a vice president with the $152 million-asset bank.

"We didn't know if we could dry them out or what, but when we picked them up, we knew we had a real problem."

Then First State found out what its new check image system could do. The system's vendor, Document Solutions Inc., reprogrammed First State's software, enabling it to recall images of the destroyed checks from the file server. Both sides of the duplicates were then recreated at an on-site laser printer.

The duplicates were then stamped with indemnification notices, saving the bank staff from an arduous process of hunting and reprinting each item from microfiche files. Reconstruction from microfiche could have taken weeks as opposed to less than a day for the image system, bank officials said.

"I had no idea we were going to be able to do it so quickly," said Mr. Story, who in his 11 years with First State Bank has never lost a cash letter. "I won't say it was done effortlessly, but it was a minimum amount on our part."

Patrick Koster, a spokesman for Document Solutions, said the cash letter recovery capabilities of the image-based proof of deposit system were among several of the benefits of such systems.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.