GULFPORT, Miss., Aug. 29, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- For many Gulf South residents, the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina constitutes a bittersweet chance to remember, reflect, and perhaps most importantly, recognize the region's unlimited potential in the wake of America's worst natural disaster. For 108-year-old Hancock Bank and its nearly 2,000 associates, the day also hails a landmark achievement in securing operations and information crucial to seamless financial services for Hancock customers, regardless of weather.

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Dedicating the new Hancock Bank Technology Center in west Harrison County earlier today, company executives commemorated the past and present during a ceremony held at the approximate time when Katrina's destructive winds and unprecedented surge had reached unimaginable ferocity along Gulf Coast shores two years ago. The technology center stands core to Hancock's overall business recovery plan and is a shining archetype of the Gulf Coast's post-Katrina lessons-learned approach to disaster preparedness.

Headquartered in South Mississippi, Hancock Holding Company (Nasdaq:HBHC) -- parent company of Hancock Bank Mississippi, Hancock Bank of Louisiana, Hancock Bank of Alabama, and Hancock Bank of Florida -- serves many of the communities hardest hit by Katrina.

"Our customers' resilience, our shareholders' confidence, our community leaders' commitment, the selflessness of hundreds of volunteers, our business partners' hard work, and, especially, our associates' dedication . . . that support has enabled us to reach this recovery and rebuilding milestone. We at Hancock Bank look forward to facilitating continued progress toward a bright new era for the entire region," said Hancock Holding Company Chief Executive Officer John M. Hairston.

Nearly 200 guests attended the dedication, including state and local leaders and many of the Hancock associates who pioneered the bank's original computer center on Pass Road in Gulfport -- another first-of-its-kind South Mississippi data processing center -- more than 40 years ago. Bank hosts offered guests and media special tours of areas in the new center typically inaccessible to visitors.

"While we were fortunate to build the Hancock Bank Technology Center in less than nine months, this project represents decades of tireless efforts by our associates to secure our systems and ensure operational efficiency. This building is a testament to their commitment to service and a direct result of our experiences in helping customers weather literal and figurative storms, including Hurricane Katrina, for 108 years," said Shane Loper, Hancock's chief operations officer.

Located on 100 acres nearly 10 miles inland, the 37,390-square-foot self-sustaining center safeguards Hancock's critical operations equipment, network infrastructure, and customer data. With exterior walls of eight-inch-thick reinforced concrete and ceilings of four-inch-thick concrete panels topped with an additional seven inches of poured concrete, the structure can adapt to and withstand winds exceeding 200 m.p.h. -- the equivalent of an F3 tornado.

Other emergency features include a high-tech command center for monitoring storms with real-time national and international reports. Two cooling units, an 8,000-gallon chilled water tank, and a redundant continuous-flow pump system regulate ideal temperatures for a computer room and network operations center resting on 5,400 square feet of raised flooring. A back-up system comprising 120 continuously monitored 20-year batteries generating 360 kilowatts of power and a three-phase, continuously online solid-state uninterruptible power system (UPS) operate in conjunction with the building's standard electrical system to ensure constant conditioned power for critical systems if commercial utilities fail. A doubled-lined 25,000-gallon tank equipped with a continuous recycler and emergency alarm fuels dual 820-kilowatt stand-by generators designed for automatic operation during power failures lasting almost a month.

Hancock Bank ranks fourth among the country's top-performing banks, according to U.S. Banker magazine. Hancock Holding Company has assets of more than $6 billion. Bank subsidiaries include Hancock Investment Services, Inc., Hancock Insurance Agency, and Harrison Finance Company. More information and online banking are available at www.hancockbank.com.

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Hancock Holding Company
R. Paul Maxwell, VP and Corporate Communications Manager
228-563-7953 
paul_maxwell@hancockbank.com