Damage in eastern New Orleans from Tuesday's tornadoes.

Damage in eastern New Orleans from Tuesday's tornadoes. Gerald Herbert/AP

Feds Will Get Paychecks on Time After Tornado Hits Major Processing Facility

The National Finance Center in New Orleans has enacted its emergency plan.

This story has been updated

The New Orleans-based center that processes payroll for more than 650,000 federal employees was severely damaged by one of the tornadoes that hit the eastern part of the city on Tuesday, but has enacted its emergency plan and does not anticipate any delays in issuing pay checks.

“Payroll processes continue as normal, and we want to ensure our customers that all employees serviced by [the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center] will be paid timely,” the facility announced in a message Tuesday night.

Damage to the finance center was extensive, according to local news from Channel 4 WWL-TV. “Chunks of the brick walls were ripped clean off by the destructive winds,” the news channel reported. “File cabinets, cubicle partitions and desks could be seen from the road, along with the burgundy-colored sinks and stall doors of the women’s restroom in the east wing of the government building. Looking dazed, USDA employees walked out after riding out the storm and found almost all of their vehicles damaged.”

A USDA spokesperson told Government Executive: "Because of the damage sustained in the buildings NFC occupies, all of its operations have been relocated indefinitely to its alternative work site [in Shreveport, La.] Operations will resume business as usual on Wednesday."

This is not the first time the finance center has had to enact its continuity of operations plan. When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, NFC staff members were able to finish processing and transmitting urgent payroll information without a hitch, before relocating to sites near Dallas and in Philadelphia. The center also eventually moved its computer hardware to Denver to minimize risk of weather damage.

"The NFC staff takes its [continuity of operations] planning seriously so that when disaster strikes, it can continue its work seamlessly," the USDA spokesperson said. 

Eric Katz contributed to this story