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1st National Bank of South Florida Recovers Quickly from Hurricane Andrew

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Posted: Friday, August 25, 2017 12:00 am

Hurricane Andrew threw a vicious punch at 1st National Bank of South Florida, the Bank staggered but recovered quickly and roared back.

The major damage to the Main Office at 1550 N. Krome Avenue was the loss of the decorative concrete facing blocks.  On the north side of the building particularly the split-faced block simply peeled off.  It had not been anchored to the outside wals.

   It was not long before the Bank was back open serving its customers and others as well.  Bill Losner, president of the Bank made the decision to provide cash to customers of other institutions which did not open back up.  I stood at the door, looked at people’s bank books or statements and OKed the receipt of cash.  Often the line stretched from the door out to 16th Street and back to the west end of the building.   Unfortunately some unscrupulous local residents contracted to have their property cleared off and then stopped payment on their checks to the contractor.  The result:  contractors wanted cash only and we became essentially a cash


   Most of our staff had families so being able to care for their children became a primary consideration.  If we expected them to come to work we needed to see that their children were cared for.  The Bank opened an informal day care facility, hiring the daughters of staff members.  Parents were able to come to work and not worry about their children.

   Food was another consideration.  A bank in Long Island New York sent a truck load of food and clothing to our Bank.  A free store was set up in the board room.

The Bank had a large, former US Navy submarine generator so electrical power was not a problem.  Bank president Bill Losner was the primary generator mechanic and a good one.  The Bank also purchased some fairly large portable generators for home use which it sold to staff at cost.

   The Bank also hired a handyman who worked exclusively for Bank staff repairing broken windows and anything other minor problems.  Another example of the Bank’s concern for its loyal staff.

   It was not long before repairs were made to all the Bank’s facilities and business as usual returned to the Bank established in 1932 at the height of the Depression by Max Losner, grandfather of Bill.

Bob Jensen is a retired US Navy Commander and the president of the Florida Pioneer Museum and the Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum.

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