Before Hurricane Erin spun off to sea earlier this month, it lashed the town of Atmore, Ala., ripping the roof from one of its community banks.

"It just sucked the roof right up," said Robert R. Jones, chief executive of the $130 million-asset United Bank. "Witnesses said they could see the roof spiraling up in slow motion, and then it landed in the street."

Water quickly filled the top two floors of the three-story bank, wreaking destruction. Water-logged ceilings collapsed, causing further damage.

"Water was running down the steps like a waterfall," Mr. Jones said.

Mr. Jones estimated the damage at well over $1 million and believes it will be at least three months before the bank returns to normal. In the meantime, though, United has moved its primary operations and 40 employees into a nearby warehouse. ***

A chicken is trying to change banking rules in Pennsylvania.

Say hello to Crackers, the corporate crime fighting chicken, a creation of "TV Nation," a program on the Fox network hosted by Michael Moore of "Roger & Me" fame.

Earlier this month in Philadelphia, Crackers followed up on grievances that the area has some of the highest bounced check fees in the nation.

After personally visiting several Philadelphia banks - including CoreStates, Republic Bank and United Valley Bank - without convincing them to lower fees, Crackers clucked, "I've got to change the law."

He drafted a bill that would limit bounced check fees to $7.50 and presented it to state representative Babette Josephs, who said she will introduce it this fall.

"We'd be opposed to it if (the amount) doesn't cover our costs," said Eric Gorrell, director of federal and state relations for the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers.

Mr. Gorrell said it costs more than the $1 or $2 often cited to process a bounced check and that people who bounce checks should be penalized somewhat anyway.

But he still gives Crackers points for originality.

"It's the first time I've heard of a chicken trying to impact legislation," Mr. Gorrell said. "If that's what it takes these days to get legislation on the floor, more power to the people."

Compiled by Christopher Rhoads and Barbara F. Bronstien.

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