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NR 2005-126
Contact: Robert M. Garsson
(202) 874-5770

OCC Names Community Affairs Officer for New Orleans

WASHINGTON – The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency today announced the appointment of Mary Catherine Garon as acting Community Affairs Officer in New Orleans, a newly-created position.

"We are at the beginning of a long-term effort to rebuild an area that was absolutely devastated by Hurricane Katrina," said Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan. "Mary Catherine will play a vital role in that process by working with national banks, community groups, governmental organizations and others that are focused on reconstruction."

Mr. Dugan returned Wednesday from a working trip to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi, and said he had been profoundly moved by the destruction and the evidence of human suffering he witnessed.

"Nothing can prepare you for a drive that takes you past mile after mile of uprooted trees, abandoned cars and concrete foundations that mark the spots where homes once stood," he said. "Nothing can prepare you for the eerie quiet of neighborhoods that show almost no sign of human activity."

Mr. Dugan said that the purpose of his trip was to talk with bankers, OCC staff and others about the operational phase of the response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"It is clear that we have a long road ahead before the region returns to normal," Mr. Dugan said. "But however great the task, the OCC staff and national bankers I spoke to are ready to play their part. I can’t tell you how impressed I was by the determination they showed to get about the business of rebuilding the damaged areas of the Gulf Coast."

Ms. Garon, a New Orleans-based national bank examiner, has 15 years of experience with the OCC, including years of work examining national banks for compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act.

She will serve as a liaison to governmental organizations, community groups, and national bank customers on hurricane-related banking matters and community reconstruction financing issues. In addition, she will assist in managing the OCC's participation in the Operation Hope/FEMA financial counseling initiative. She will also identify community development lending and investment opportunities available to national banks seeking to aid the Gulf Coast reconstruction efforts.

Ms. Garon joins the two other members of the OCC's Southern District Community Affairs team: David Lewis, who is based in the OCC's Southern District Office in Dallas, and Karol Klim, who is based in the agency's Atlanta Field Office.

Ms. Garon can be reached at 504 533-7932. The OCC's customer assistance group, which is prepared to help national bank customers with questions arising from Hurricane Katrina, can be reached at 800 613-6743.

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