WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 /U.S. Newswire/ — National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman JoAnn Johnson joined with other governmental officials at a press conference today in announcing an unprecedented initiative focusing on economic triage and empowerment for those affected and displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Project Restore HOPE, led by Operation Hope, Inc. Founder and Chairman John Bryant, will focus on volunteer emergency preparedness, response and guidance to individuals and small businesses affected by the recent hurricane disasters.

The press conference held at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), included White House officials, and representatives of the Department of Treasury, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS).

"NCUA is extremely pleased to partner with FEMA and Operation Hope on this initiative to assist those displaced by Hurricane Katrina," said Chairman Johnson. "The credit union community has responded with great compassion. I encourage that spirit to continue through this effort to providing financial counseling and support for those who are in great need of economic empowerment more than ever."

More than 1.3 million victims of Hurricane Katrina have registered with FEMA for assistance.

— In coming weeks and months many of these individuals will require help beyond what FEMA provides through immediate emergency cash payments; including the emergency economic counseling, emergency budget counseling, and economic triage counseling provided through Hope Coalition America (HCA) and its partners;

— HCA will use general HOPE Corps volunteers for outreach and client intake, and will use professional HOPE Corps volunteers from credit unions, banking, financial services, insurance, accounting, legal and anyone else with a financial services background to provide victims with compassion counseling; and

— HCA needs more volunteers, now; approximately 5,000, on the ground in the disaster states in FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers, in Call Centers at First American Corporation, in Poway, California and Dallas, Texas.

NCUA has called on its agency-wide staff to encourage them to volunteer in this initiative, as well as credit unions nationwide, according to Chairman Johnson.

Project Restore HOPE will include components such as call center volunteers, FEMA Disaster Recovery Center/Hope Coalition America field office volunteers, street team volunteers, and virtual help-center volunteers.

For more information regarding volunteer opportunities with Project Restore Hope visit www.operationhope.org. For those affected by Hurricane Katrina and ready to seek assistance in rebuilding their financial lives by obtaining lost or destroyed personal identification and financial documents, financial counseling, call (888) 388-HOPE (4673).

The National Credit Union Administration, governed by a three- member board appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, is the independent federal agency that regulates, charters and supervises federal credit unions. NCUA, with the backing of the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, operates and manages the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, insuring the deposits of more than 84 million account holders in all federal credit unions and the overwhelming majority of state-chartered credit unions.

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