Shelley Anderson, 41, learned a lot from Hurricane Harvey.

The massive Category storm rumbled ashore in Texas in August 2017, flattening scores of businesses and homes with its ferocity.

It was hard to go to a grocery store in the days that followed. Getting anyone on the phone at businesses she needed to contact was just as difficult.

Yet, the bills were still coming. And they needed to be paid.

More: $5 billion coming from the feds to help Texas cities, counties with coronavirus expenses

"All you had was their websites," said Anderson, a mother of three from Corpus Christi.

So, when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced in March businesses would have to temporarily close to head off a wildfire-paced pandemic that had already killed hundreds of people in the state, she was prepared.

And, so were banks.

Banking institutions, from the giant nationals to the community banks on Main Street, all felt the pandemic's sting in some way.

Some adjusted their hours and stepped up their cleaning regimens. Others closed their lobbies altogether and had employees work remotely.

Their one fallback was technology -- a menu of apps, websites and bank-by-phone options. ATMs around the state were also busier.

More: Feds award $3 million to assist seniors and Texans with disabilities during pandemic

Future of finance

Get ready for more of that in the future, even after COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past, experts say.

"During this crisis, we've had deep conversations with our customers, learning what they're doing now and how they're managing," said Gabe Guerra, president/CEO of Kleberg Bank. "COVID's going to be around for a while. We have to plan for that."

Kleberg Bank is an independent community bank that was founded in 1905. It operates six financial centers, three of which are in Corpus Christi.

Here's how many banks responded:

* Lobbies were kept open by appointment.

* Much of the business that normally was done in the lobby was also temporarily transitioned its 'motor banks;'

* Increased the frequency of our communication with clients and employees.

While some banks closed during the pandemic, American Bank, also rooted in South Texas, did not.

It has 14 branches in the Coastal Bend, six of which are in Corpus Christi, where it is headquartered. They all remained open for customers, though changes were made to protect both employees and clients.

More: COVID-19 may erase up to $21 million from Corpus Christi's city budget

Among the changes:

* Increased the hours its Client Services team is available by phone;

* Implemented electronic signature capabilities for most of its loan documents and other forms;

* Provided assistance to clients through various fee reductions, increased transaction limits and loan payment deferrals.

About 80 percent of American Bank's 270-plus employees have worked remotely since March, said Stephen C. Raffaele,  its CEO and president.

"There is no doubt that small businesses are struggling, but throughout our 50-year history we have always been there for our clients, in good times as well as bad," Raffaele said. "Now is no different."

Helping Main Street

Locally and nationally, small businesses are bearing the brunt of the economic downturn and the stay-at-home orders.

Many of the businesses that were hardest hit in the Corpus Christi area were connected to the hospitality, retail and tourism industries.

Most turned to the banks for help.

Congress worked with the Small Business Administration to create the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP.

The low-interest forgivable loans became a lifeline for restaurants, specialty shops and other small businesses to keep workers on staff, and also to pay for rent and utilities.

San Antonio-based Frost Bank is a major provider of PPP loans to small businesses in Texas.

It established a regional headquarters building on south Shoreline Boulevard in Corpus Christi just weeks before the pandemic erupted.

Since early April, when PPP was implemented, Frost Bank has helped nearly 16,500 small Texas businesses get PPP loans for a total of $3.4 billion, said Bill Day, its Senior Vice President of Corporate Communication.

In Nueces County alone, Frost worked with 589 small businesses to get them $100 million in PPP loans, Day said.

American Bank applications were approved by the Small Business Administration for more than $159 million. That's equal to about 17% of the total dollar amount of its total loan portfolio, Raffaele said.

More: Survey tests Corpus Christi-area businesses on how they're handling the COVID-19 pandemic

The average PPP business loan amount from American Bank was $149,000.

Meanwhile, Anderson described Hurricane Harvey as a "dress rehearsal" for the effects of COVID-19.

"It (storm) kinda got me ready for this," she said. "The only difference is we don't have a clue how long we'll be dealing with this."

Anderson said she has felt linked to her bank -- and her money -- as long as her cellphone had battery life and a wifi connection.

"No, I couldn't see the tellers, even though had gotten to know them," Anderson said. "But (my family) is still managing."

Tips for consumers

Get techy with it. Customers should probably become more familiar with their cellphone's functions, and also learn to navigate their bank's website or mobile app.

Can you spare a dime? The answer most of the times is "no," if a 2017 survey by U.S. Bank is to be believed. It found nearly half of its consumers prefer to do their banking digitally, rather than carry cash. That only means more banks will transition toward more digital products for their clients.

Shorter lines. Maybe. Banks will control their own timetables on when they fully open their lobbies. When they do, some customers may migrate to online banking to avoid lines.

More lending? Perhaps. Look for banks to field more applications from those considering loans, particularly for mortgages and small businesses. "We are working with customers whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. Additionally, interest rates are at historic lows, which is advantageous to borrowers," Day said.