Hurricane Maria a Dangerous Category 5 Closing in on a Potentially Catastrophic Strike On Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Updated 11/2/17: Fannie Mae issued Lender Letter LL-2017-09: Fannie Mae Extends Modification for Disaster Relief and Other Clarifications for Mortgage Loans Impacted by Disaster Events.

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Updated 11/2/17: Freddie Mac issued a release outlining the expansion of its requirements for mortgages held by borrowers whose mortgaged premises or places of employment are located in any eligible disaster area designated on or after August 25, 2017.

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Updated 10/27/17: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a press release titled HUD Cuts Red Tape to Speed Hurricane Recovery.

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Updated 10/24/17: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued FHA INFO #17-48: FHA Disaster-Related Policy Waivers Issued for Presidentially-Declared Major Disaster Areas in Puerto Rico and California.

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Updated 10/24/17: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an update titled USDA Foreclosure Moratoriums Extended for Areas Impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

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Updated 10/23/17: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued a change to Circular 26-17-28 that extends the established moratorium on foreclosures following Hurricane Maria.

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Updated 10/23/17: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a press release titled FHA Extends Foreclosure Relief for Homeowners Impacted by Recent Hurricanes.

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Updated 10/18/17: Fannie Mae issued a release announcing the availability of updated hurricane relief Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

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Updated 10/2/17: FEMA has provided a webpage providing procedural information in regard to the formal disaster declaration process.

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Updated 10/2/17:
FEMA issued an update to a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for areas in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria beginning September 17, 2017 and continuing.

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Updated 9/27/17: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-17-28: Special Relief Following Hurricane Maria. 

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Updated 9/27/17: Fannie Mae issued a news release titled Fannie Mae Invoicing Is Here; Disaster Assistance Resources; New Quarterly Compass; and More.

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Updated 9/25/17: Freddie Mac issued FHLMC Guide Bulletin 2017-21: Extension of Certain Hurricane-Related Requirements and Property Inspection Reimbursement for Eligible Disaster Areas.

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Updated 9/23/17: FEMA issued an update to a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricane Maria beginning September 16 and continuing.

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Updated 9/21/17: Fannie Mae issued Lender Letter LL-2017-07: Reimbursement for Property Inspections and Additional Servicing-Related Reminders.

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Updated 9/21/17: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a press release titled HUD Announces Disaster Assistance for Puerto Rico Storm Victims.

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Updated 9/21/17: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a press release titled HUD Announces Disaster Assistance for U.S. Virgin Island Storm Victims.

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Updated 9/20/17: FEMA issued a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for areas in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria beginning September 17, 2017 and continuing.

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Updated 9/20/17: FEMA issued a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricane Maria beginning September 16, 2017 and continuing.

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Updated 9/18/17: FEMA issued an Emergency Declaration for the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricane Maria beginning September 16, 2017 and continuing.

Link to declaration

Link to ZIP Code list

Please Note: This has NOT yet been declared a Presidential Major Disaster.

Updated 9/18/17: FEMA issued an Emergency Declaration for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria beginning September 17, 2017 and continuing.

Link to declaration

Link to ZIP Code list

Please Note: This has NOT yet been declared a Presidential Major Disaster.

Updated 9/18/17: The projected National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center (NHC) cone of Hurricane Maria is available for review on MapAlert®. Please click here to access the MapAlert Disaster Viewer

Please Note: We only review properties Safeguard services on behalf of our clients. For more information on a subscription to our advanced MapAlert analysis service, which can map, track and monitor properties or portfolios (delinquent or current) that Safeguard does not manage, please contact our MapAlert team at 800-852-8306 x1675, or visit http://www.safeguardproperties.com/Resources/MapAlert.aspx.

All Client Alert
September 18, 2017

Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 hurricane, is closing in on a potentially catastrophic strike on the already storm-weary Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, following a first-on-record Category 5 landfall for the island of Dominica Monday night.

The National Weather Service office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, warned of "catastrophic damage" from Maria's winds, as well as the potential for "devastating to catastrophic flooding" from rainfall flooding in a hurricane local statement issued Tuesday morning.

A report from a U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter mission early Tuesday confirmed Maria regained Category 5 status. Maria's center is currently 150 miles southeast of St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, moving west-northwest at 10 mph.

A hurricane warning remains in effect for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques. A tropical storm warning has been issued for Martinique, Antigua, Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, and Anguilla.

Hurricane watches include Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Anguilla and from Isla Saona to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.

Tropical storm watches have been posted from west of Puerto Plata to the northern Dominican Republic-Haiti border.

Maria rapidly intensified Monday thanks to a combination of low wind shear, a moist atmosphere and warm ocean temperatures.

"Maria is developing the dreaded pinhole eye," the National Hurricane Center said in its late Monday afternoon discussion. This is an indication of a powerful, strengthening hurricane, and just three hours later, Maria reached Category 5 intensity.

Next up for Maria, a potentially catastrophic strike on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Hispañola Impacts

Time is quickly running out for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico before conditions begin going downhill. Residents and visitors should rush their preparations to completion immediately.

Some outer bands of showers are already pushing into the Virgin Islands, accompanied by winds gusts, at times, over 30 mph.

Maria will bring a potentially catastrophic combination of storm-surge flooding, destructive winds and flooding rain to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as a Category 4 or 5 hurricane Wednesday.

"Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months," according to the National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Tropical storm-force winds will arrive quickly in the Virgin Islands, with hurricane-force winds arriving Tuesday night, continuing into Wednesday morning, particularly in St. Croix.

In Puerto Rico, tropical storm-force winds will arrive by Tuesday evening, with hurricane-force winds arriving by the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, continuing into Wednesday evening.

Portions of the Dominican Republic, particularly near the north coast, may see hurricane-force winds develop as soon as Wednesday evening, continuing into Thursday. There is still some uncertainty, as any slight jog of the eyewall north could keep the most intense winds off the coast of the D.R.

A storm surge of up to 7 to 11 feet above normal tide levels is expected in the British Virgin Islands, with 6 to 9 feet of storm surge possible in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico may see 12 to 18 inches of rain, with locally up to 25 inches in some areas, through Thursday.

The Virgin Islands are expected to receive 10 to 15 inches of rain, with locally up to 20 inches.

The eastern Dominican Republic is forecast to pick up 4 to 8 inches of rain, with isolated 12-inch amounts.

These rainfall totals have the potential to produce widespread, life-threatening, potentially catastrophic flooding and mudslides.

Maria may be only the second Category 5 hurricane of record to landfall in Puerto Rico, joining the September 1928 San Felipe/Okeechobee hurricane.

Prior to Irma, only four other Category 4 hurricanes had tracked within 75 miles of central Puerto Rico in historical records dating to the late 19th century. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 was the last to do so, before Irma's Category 5 swipe just two weeks ago.

Leeward Islands Impacts

Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island of Dominica at 9:15 p.m. EDT Monday evening as a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph.

Hurricane-force winds may persist for a few more hours in St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Saba and St. Eustatius. This includes some locations in the northern Leeward Islands that were devastated by Hurricane Irma.

Winds will slowly subside Tuesday in Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda, though bands of heavy rain on the eastern flank of Maria may wrap into these locations, at times, accompanied by tropical storm force wind gusts.

A storm surge of up to 7 to 11 feet above normal tide levels was expected in the hurricane warning area.

High surf and dangerous rip currents are already impacting the Lesser Antilles and will persist even for a day or so after Maria's center passes by.

Rainfall totals of 10 to 15 inches are possible in the central and southern Leeward Islands, with locally up to 20 inches in some spots. That has the potential to produce widespread, life-threatening flooding and mudslides, particularly on mountainous terrain.

Maria is also expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain, with locally up to 10 inches, over the northern Leeward Islands from Barbuda to Anguilla.

Two to 4 inches of rain, with locally up to 6 inches, can be expected in the Windward Islands and Barbados.

Will Maria Threaten the U.S. East Coast?

It is still too soon to determine at this time whether Maria will directly impact the East Coast of the U.S. next week.

Whether Maria will ever pose an East Coast threat will depend on steering currents in the upper atmosphere over the western Atlantic Ocean and the eastern United States that cannot be pinned down this far in advance.

Interestingly, the potential for Jose to stall off the Northeast coast this weekend could play some role in determining Maria's long-term future path. For more details, see the link below.

Also, if Maria interacts with the higher terrain of Puerto Rico and/or Hispañola, that could also affect its future track and intensity.

For now, all residents along the East Coast should monitor the progress of Maria.

Source: The Weather Channel

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