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IBAA LAUNCHES 'OPERATION GOOD NEIGHBOR' TO HELP MIDWEST FLOOD VICTIMS

 WASHINGTON, July 13 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to the worst flooding of the century, community bankers in five flood-ravaged Midwestern states are helping speed delivery of federal disaster assistance for damaged homes, businesses, farms, public facilities and non-profit organizations.
 Under "Operation Good Neighbor," launched by the Independent Bankers Association of America (IBAA), community bankers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois are staffing Federal Disaster Assistance Centers. The bankers, recruited by state community banker associations, are helping flood victims complete federal loan application forms to speed up the delivery of funds. IBAA, working with federal disaster officials, is coordinating the bankers' efforts in the five-state region.
 "This is a case of neighbor helping neighbor," said IBAA President James R. Lauffer, chairman/president/CEO of the First National Bank of Herminie, Irwin, Pa. "Community bankers are good neighbors, so this volunteer effort comes from the heart."
 Lauffer said federal aid is being dispensed in some designated disaster areas, but lack of familiarity with government financial forms and requirements could slow the process. "That's where community bankers come in," he said. "They can speed up the process at a time when speed is critical."
 Bernard Kulik, who heads the disaster assistance office for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Washington, agreed. "We welcome IBAA's help," he said. "Local community bankers are ideal participants in the loan application process, and they will help take the strain off of local government offices."
 Low-interest SBA loans are available to repair residences (up to $100,000, plus $20,000 for personal property); to rebuild and restart businesses (up to $500,000); and to repair public facilities. Additionally, family farmers may be eligible for low-interest FmHA emergency farm loans ($500,000 per disaster), indemnities from federal crop insurance, or ASCS disaster payments.
 Lauffer believes this is the first time bankers have organized such a relief effort throughout a broad disaster area. "There was spontaneous willingness among our state independent bankers associations and individual bankers to get involved in this project," he said. "They deserve a lot of credit. Community bankers truly are good neighbors."
 IBAA is the only national trade association that exclusively represents the interests of the nation's community banks.
 -0- 7/13/93
 /CONTACT: Ron Ence or Herb Spira of IBAA, 202-659-8111/


CO: Independent Bankers Association of America ST: District of Columbia IN: FIN SU:

TW -- DC009 -- 0870 07/13/93 11:50 EDT
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Date:Jul 13, 1993
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