“The company was totally destroyed when you talk about physical facilities and technology,” recalls Loper of Hancock Bank’s headquarters and its branches after the storm. While the bank’s 15-story building in Gulfport that housed its entire back-office support and operations systems survived, windows were blown out and a wall of the data center collapsed. According to Loper, the wind and water damage was devastating. Yet the bank knew it needed to be up and running to help residents begin to regain a sense of normalcy.
Loper and other bank staff were forced to evacuate to Tallahassee, Fla., before the storm hit, and Hancock was able to set up a temporary command center there to see the bank through the recovery. “We organized in one of our main branches in downtown Tallahassee,” Loper relates. “We ran the overall recovery from there.”
The bank’s data, meanwhile, was safely housed in Chicago at Hancock’s SunGard backup facility. “We were able to restart our core technology systems, ATM processing and card processing within 48 hours,” Loper reports. “Then we worked on bringing up the servers and branch connectivity.”
Overall, the bank spent $65 million to rebuild the tower in Gulfport that originally housed its data center and to rehabilitate some of the surrounding area. In addition, Hancock constructed the Hancock Technology Center, a new $16 million technology center situated 10 miles inland — and 50 feet above sea level. “This is a Tier 3 center that can withstand an F-3 tornado and 200 mile-per-hour winds,” Loper explains. “There are twin generators that can run for a month and 5,000 square feet of raised floor space.”
According to Loper, after reviewing its disaster response to Katrina, the bank set new standards for recovering IT operations in the event of a similar disaster — four-hour recovery time for customer-facing systems and 24 hours on all core systems. “Virtualization was the only way to do this,” he says.