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Mortgage Relief for Those Impacted by Hawaiian Volcano

Nearly 30 homes have been destroyed, and more are in the path of potential destruction since the Hawaiian volcano known as Kīlauea began pouring lava down its slopes on May 3, 2018. Now several lenders, including Wells Fargo and Bank of Hawaii, have announced mortgage relief for homeowners impacted by the disaster.

As reported by Bankrate [1], Wells Fargo has announced that customers affected by the volcanic event can contact the bank in order to secure a 90-day postponement in mortgage payments. Paul Gomez, VP of Corporate Communications at Wells Fargo [2], said, “During this time, all negative credit bureau reporting, late fees, collection calls, and foreclosure referrals and sales are also suspended.”

Bank of Hawaii is also offering protections for affected mortgage holders and those currently facing foreclosure. Stafford Kiguchi, a Bank of Hawaii media representative, said, “We are definitely suspending foreclosures and evictions during this time of hardship. The initial period of time is for the length of the emergency loan program, which is six months for forbearance.” Kiguchi added that the bank would also work with borrowers to extend foreclosure suspensions beyond that period where prudent. “If the hardship turns out to be more than a temporary situation, we have other, long-term relief programs, such as our loan modification program, which permanently lowers a borrower's monthly payment,” Kiguchi continued.

Kīlauea has been erupting since 1983 and has caused property damage before, including the 1990 destruction of the town of Kalapana. On Friday, May 11, President Trump approved a disaster declaration [3] for the region and ordered the disbursement of federal disaster aid. Hawaii Gov. David Ige said in a statement [4], “I’m grateful for the quick approval of my request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration. This opens the door to federal assistance and demonstrates a solid partnership with the federal government as we work to keep Hawai‘i residents safe and support recovery efforts on Hawai‘i Island.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information [5], natural disasters caused $306 billion in total damage across America in 2017.