BY MARIA WILLIAMS:Broker- Co-owner of Relilable Realty SRL in El Cortecito, Bavaro, Punta Cana Dominican Republic. Consultant to N. American investors, Ongoing episodes on HGTV Caribbean Life, and locally, ESTV and Punta Cana TV (Punta Cana Homes). Pioneer in Punta Cana/ Bavaro area since 2008, and considered by others, as an influence to the rapid exposure and growth of this area (i.e. writer of Punta Cana Revealed 2010 - 2015) - SOLD OUT!
GREAT NEWS! In addition to Punta Cana/ Bavaro being on of the safest (crime wise) destinations in the Caribbean, the East coast is also one of the safest protected Islands in the Caribbean.
The unque combination of Punta Cana and Bavaro's ideal East coast geographic location and atmospheric conditions have historically shown the East Coast of the Dominican Republic has the least amount of hurricanne risk when comparing other Caribbean destinations, including the U.S. coastlines.
Late June, through November is typically hurricane season in the Caribbean, with September historically being the peak month for the storms.
However, it is true... On September 19, 2017, the East Coast of Punta Cana / Bavaro did get sideswiped with "Maria", a catagory 3 Hurricane. I'm personally not happy the name "Maria" was chosen... but what can you do? See local story after the storm - on Punta Cana Homes (TV)
Several U.S. news stations reported this area was destroyed, they are wrong. Rather the very small country (Island) of Dominica was hammered. Often when people hear "Dominica", they assume this is the Dominican Republic. Dominica is actually located near Guadalupe. 750 sq. meters (290 sq. miles) V.S. the Dominican Republic, of 48,671 sq. meters (18,792 sq. miles); the 2nd largest Island, next to Cuba in the Caribbean.
Yes, Hurricane Maria did leave her mark. There were some downed trees / broken branches, many temporary metal fences used during new construction, did fall down, other temporary metal structures collaspts and were damaged, road signs did fall over, and many significantly damaged (but not Reliable Realty billboards 😊).... There were also some downed electrical wires, as well as some flooded low-lying roads (but still passable). Clean up occured immediately after the storm, and within less than 2 weeks, with the exception of the poorly constructed souvineer shops on the beach, you can hardly tell Maria (the hurricane) was even here.
The benefits of the East Coast having a strong coral reef barrier around the entire 30-mile east coast was, and is a huge factor in why we didn't and aren't impacted by storm/ ocean surges, that often come with devastating flooding and drownings, like all the other Islands who were severely affected.
Impressively, power lines were restored in some areas in less than 1 day after the storm... and other areas, power was restored (sporadically) within 3+ days; As well as phone lines, cable TV, and internet.
The chances of a DIRECT land hit from a hurricane, like the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico, who unfortunately are still challenged with full recovery; is highly unlikely as once a hurricane passes over Puerto Rico and our neighbor just 85+ miles from us, the sizmic catagory drops significantly, and the jet streams and atmoperic pressures pull the hurricane to the North or the South of the East Coast, depending on the angle the hurricane was going after sweepoing over Puerto Rico.
Here's some scientific reasoning: by Elvin Calcaño Ortiz, Atmospheric Scientist:
"Threatening hurricanes generally begin to deviate when they approach Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. This is because during the wetter months from July to October, atmospheric pressures, or bands of rain and wind already exist, especially in the north- to northwest. Atmospheric pressures are the primary contributors in either starving, or feeding hurricanes. Strong pressures are important in pushing the storms away. What made Irma initially appear to directly impact the East Coast of the Dominican Republic on September 7, 2017, was a low-pressure zone north of both islands that pushed her to the south. Since early dawn that low pressure moved forcing Irma to take a more north-northwest course away from the Island.
Depending on the path of the hurricane, the strong jet streams created by the sharp radius of the East Coast of Punta Cana also help navigate hurricanes to the North or South of the DR. Puerto Rico additionally buffers the degree of intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms within the East Coast of the Dominican Republic".
The locals (and myself) truly believe what has been passed from generation to generation. That the Domican Republic East Coast is "Kissed by God". So they believe the biggest reason we are not really affected by Hurricanes is due to all the prayers, and their strong FAITH that these prayers will be answered. There could be some real truth to this ... afterall, the Domincan Republic is the ONLY COUNTRY that proudly bears the Bible and the Cross on its country flag.
As most locals and even tourist travel agencies already know, when hurricanes are developing, it is almost always "business as usual", because these residents all know it's rare that a hurricane actually finds its way to land on the East Coast. It could be this unique strategic location in the Caribbean, or perhaps sheer luck, but the country has been spared the onslaught of a monstrous hurricanes for over a decade.
One important fact many of these reports miss, is our "Protective Coral Reef" surrounding nearly the entire 30+ mille Eastern coastline. This reef acts like a wall underwater taming strong ocean surges. So protective is this coral reef, that when strong surges hit this reef, it can sound like a jet engine airplane in your front yard... yet the water only rises perhaps 2 ft. higher than normal on the shoreline. I witnessed this personally during a passing Tropical Storm in 2010. Perhaps all of these reasons are why homeowners insurance is much more afordable on the East Coast, than on the North or South of the Island.
NEWER HURRICANE AND EARTHQUAKE PROOF CONSTRUCTION - plays an important and perhaps equal role in why the damage is lessened. Infastructure is new or newer in the Punta Cana/ Bavaro area (2007- under-construction )... As of 2017, most condos here average 5 years new. Meaning exceptional concrete construction since 2007. All new construction (masterplans) must pass strict soil tests, and meet hurricane, flooding, and earthquake codes in order to be approved; for construction to even begin. Individual titles cannot be granted if masterplans and structural engineering plans have not been approved. Lots of extra rebar is used inside the concrete block, along with deeper pillons and footing requirements ... footings that flex a bit to avoid settling cracks or "burps" from earthquakes, and that pull water away from ground floor units. P.S. "Earthquake burps" of 4 to even 5pts. are good. Long periods of no normal earth shift activity is bad!
Developers and Builders provide insurance during the constructcion phase. However, after the condo communites are completed and an HOA committee is voted on by the owners, a monthly HOA fee is set by the owners and may include additional Insurance if the owners agree, rather than a "Special Assessment fund".
All insurance plans here cover catastrophic claims for earthquakes, hurricanes or Tropical Storm damage, fire, floods, etc.. General HOA fees include; 24/7 gated security, propane gas, water, trash removal, weekly fumigation, exterior ground lighting/ Regular Grounds and landscaping maintenance, general area maintenance of pool pumps, other common areas (shared amenities like BBQ areas, gyms, etc.). Additional upgraded insurance coverage may extend to cover other added onsite community amenities, 2 - 4 year painting cycles of all buildings, mini bars or restuarants, childrens playgrounds, etc. etc). HOA fees also include a monthly fee for the the Administration Company of the entire community, liability insurance for onsite workers, etc. Once a condo is completed, our agency requires homewners insurance for our numerous owner clients who desire to go into our vacation rental program (including content and tenant liability insurance).. i.e... For a $150,000 U.S. condo purchase, the cost will be around $800 - $1200 U.S. annually, and depends on what the owner wants to include.
A much different scene in other older Caribbean areas, where concrete construction lacks rebar, and / or deep footings, pillons, and other newer construction requirements. Old and outdated electrical plants have also been a consistant problem and concern in many older / established Caribbean Islands, Central American shorelines.; Even Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys, and and other older parts of the Florida shoreline... these aeas are challenged still with older construction and outdated electricity and other solid infastructure.
The Dominican government puts a lot of money into the East Coast electricity because this is where nearly 50 all-inclusive resorts along this beautiful white sandy 30+ mile shoreline. In fact, although "Irma" was close, Punta Cana did NOT loose power, even though Irma's outer rings did cause some heavy rain, and some wind, resulting in palm tree debri, minor clay tile shingle damage, and a little minor flooding in some lower elevation areas and streets that were still passable.
The explosion boom on the East Coast (Punta Cana / Bavaro) has been incrediable since just 2012. Punta Cana alone has expanded its PRIVATELY OWNED PUNTA CANA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 6 times since 2013 to accomodate this boom, and services nearly 11,000 visitors A DAY! (2016 - 2017 projections).
Since so many islands and popular vacation destination shorelines have been so severely affected, along with the earthquakes in Mexico, we are preparing ourselves for a very, very busy vacation rental and real estate buying season!
Residuals of hurricanes in Punta Cana (Bavaro), primarily cause mere inconveniences by interrupting vacations and flight plans. However, I'd suspect most vacationers would rather be stuck in a resort or in a hurricane proof rental property than in some other "older Caribbean" destinations, or even along the East Coast of the U.S.
Big hurricanes have been widely spaced over the last 100 years in the Dominican Republic as a whole, and most hurricanes that did navigate to land, went to the less populated southwestern and western coasts of the Dominican Republic. THANK GOD!
USA Today highlights the Dominican Republic as having a lower possibility of being affected by hurricanes than most neighboring Caribbean islands like; Antigua, Jamaica, Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico Cuba, the Florida Keys and gulf, as well as other Coastlines of Florida.
According to the list below, over the last 100+ years, the Dominican Republic (THE ENTIRE COUNTRY), has only had 14 hurricanes that actuallly touch land, and of those, only three (3) Hurricanes have effected the Punta Cana/ Bavaro touristic area (1996, 2004, and Maria in 2017).
Historical Hurricanes (Dominican Republic)– by USA Today
Maria (Catagory3-1) 19 September, 2017, E. Coast, Punta Cana, to the N. Coast, to Santigo & San Francisco Jeanne (Category 1). 16 September 2004. East Coast, Samana and Puerto Plata.
Georges. (Category 3). 22 September 1998. Santo Domingo and La Romana.
Hortense. (Category 3-1). 10 September 1996. East coast, Punta Cana to Samana.
Gilbert. (Category 3). 11 September 1988. Barahona on the southwestern coast.
Emely. (Category 4-2). 22 September. Bani on the southwestern coast.
David. (Category 5-4). 31 August 1979. Santo Domingo.
Eloise. (Category 1). 13 September 1975. Landfall on the northeast coast.
Beulah. (Category 4). 10-11 September 1967. Barahona on the southwestern coast.
Inez. (Category 4-3). 29 September 1966. Barahona on the southwestern coast.
Edith. (Category 2). 26-27 September 1963. La Romana on the southeastern coast.
Katie. (Category 1). 16 October 1955. Barahona on the southwestern coast.
San Zenon. (Category 4). 3 September 1930. 200 km/h. Santo Domingo.
Lilis (Category 3). 21 September 1894. Santo Domingo and the southwestern coast.
In the unlikely event you are caught in a hurricane here, resorts in Punta Cana / Bavaro are more than equipped and ready for such an event. So, besides the inconvenience of rain, no beach-time with wet weather (although always warm)... and possible flight delays or cancellations, there isn’t much more danger to speak of on the East Coast of Punta Cana and Bavaro.
To those looking to save money while on vacation, consider visiting Punta Cana/ Bavaro during low season and the hurricane months (late June to November). Vacationers can save 30% - 40%, rather than coming during the busy December - April, the high season months. This applies to both Resorts, and booking a vacation rental condo on or near the beach. (Ask about our vacation rentals).
And for you smart and savoy investors thinking of buying during this time, you can save perhaps 10% - 15%. Additionally, for new construction developers are more often offering temporary promotions / and or extended financing during low season as well.
Yes, Maria did affect us "somewhat". BUT PLEASE, LETS REPORT THE TRUTH AND REALITY! Educating the rest of the world, especially North Americans that we are NOT a 3rd world country, but instead, (for many popular areas in the DR), a NEWLY AND STRONGLY BUILT PARADISE is essential. We know the media loves to play on doom and gloom... as well as "attention getter" tourists who embellish on how they survived Hurricane Maria while they were vacationing in Punta Cana. Indeed, these are inflated stories. There are way more photos of structures and trees that were not affected, than those "same damage photos" still circulating.
AGAIN... In over 100 years, only three hurricanes have hit our Eastern shore. Of course, we never want to get to pompus, as we all know Mother Nature is menopausing :).
But, let’s face it, living and/ or owning property on an Island will always be the ultimate dream for most everyone, so why not invest on the island (or in the Caribbean) where the least amount of natural disasters historically occurs... and where crime rates are also the lowest?
P.S. If you do experience a hurricane while vacationing here, It is recommended you play the lotto :)