Record high water last week along the Missouri and Kansas Rivers forced the evacuation of over 20 commercial banks, according to federal regulators in the area.

Most of the banks were small institutions, said Roger Denesia, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s deputy regional director for its Kansas City, Mo., office.

In contrast, only three or four banks were forced to relocate because of the flooding Mississippi River.

|Most Banks Won't Be Hurt'

James Leese, who heads the FDIC's regional office in Kansas City, said it is likely to take months to assess the impact of the flood on the banks and their borrowers. "My feeling is that most banks won't be hurt that bad," he said.

David Herndon, president and CEO of First State Bank in Kansas City, Mo., rented a tractor trailer last week, and he and his 23 employees loaded it up with records and equipment last Monday when the National Guard advised them to evacuate as water neared the top of a levee. His bank is three blocks from the Kansas River and six blocks from the Missouri.

"We entered into mutual assistance agreement several years ago with UMB Commercial National Bank, two miles to the north," Mr. Herndon said.

Banks Share Space

Under the agreement, if one bank's facilities are incapacitated, the other bank will share space.

"I called up and asked if it was still in effect, and when they said |yes,' we drove over with the truck," he said.

First State Bank's proof and transfer employees went to another bank in the suburbs and borrowed desktop computers for some work.

Mr. Herndon said, laughing, that initially they relied on a 10-key adding machine and a rubber stamp for endorsements.

Flood Insurance

The levee held and the bank's headquarters sustained no damage, Mr. Herndon said. He had flood insurance anyway - but not because of the rivers, since his building is not in an official flood plain.

"Our insurance man convinced us to get the coverage because we are in a low-lying area and we could be flooded if the storm sewers in the intersection out front back up," he said. "I guess he'll be calling to say, |I told you so.'"

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