August 28, 2019
What Puerto Rico’s Disaster Has Taught Us About Readiness for Disasters
When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, few could anticipate the extent and length of the fallout to come. There was a sense that, following the public relations disaster of Katrina in New Orleans all those years ago, and despite the much more recent landfall of Harvey along the Gulf Coast, the federal government had done what it could to learn its lesson. FEMA, people assumed, was ready to act wherever U.S. citizens needed it to. Maybe it was just that believing so makes us feel better.
But the 3.4 million residents of that American territory soon found themselves wound tightly in a humanitarian crisis the likes of which citizens of this nation had not seen in decades. Maria was the most severe storm to strike the island in eight decades, in fact. A great number of homes—nobody is really sure just how many—remain completely abandoned. Zombie homes are a problem on the island. Rebuilding materials are extremely expensive; many must be shipped from off-island, and are thus in a state of scarcity.
While recovery has been slow—and problematic on numerous levels—Puerto Rico is doing what it can to prepare for further disasters as we move into hurricane season again. For example, community centers have been revamped into what are referred to as “resilience hubs,” which are decked-out with solar panels so as to withstand another long-term blackout—to refrigerate necessary medications and charge cell phones, among other things. They are also sources of training for emergency preparedness. So homeowners can at the very least be sure that, should the worst happen to their home, their community is ready to help.
The mortgage industry, on the other hand, has not quite figured out how to deal with the apparent increase in natural disasters of which Hurricane Maria is but one example. In an interview on CNBC, Five Star Global President & CEO Ed Delgado warned, “It could come close to exposing lenders to uncontrollable risk.” Speaking relatively, Maria is recent news. At least the mortgage industry is aware that risks exist. Now we just need to figure out what to do about it.
If you’re looking to buy a property in Jacksonville, Florida; Rockport, Massachusetts; or Cumberland, Rhode Island, you’ll need a title search to ensure you have clear title to your property in order to mitigate your risks—in case a storm or other natural disaster in the past scrambled the property’s title, for example. At Topouzis & Associates, P.C., we perform extensive title searches in these three states, and we provide Owners Policies of Title Insurance so that you can feel more secure in your investments and not find yourself subject to losing properties into which you’ve already poured significant time and money. Contact us for more details.