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Puerto Rico under hurricane watch as Tropical Storm Dorian nears

A man boards up the windows of a beach house as Tropical Storm Dorian approaches Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters

President Trump has approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico to enable federal assistance, with Tropical Storm Dorian fast approaching and the U.S. territory on hurricane watch — as forecasters warn it could take a direct hit Wednesday.

Why it matters: Puerto Rico is struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria. It declared bankruptcy in 2017 amid "the biggest government financial collapse in United States history." Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced has already signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency on the island, per Bloomberg's Michael Deibert.

  • The emergency declaration will allow for the activation of Puerto Rico's National Guard, while an order freezing prices, including fuel, which Garced signed to "prevent profiteering," Deibert reports.

The big picture: Dorian became on Saturday the 4th tropical storm to form during this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. The storm has already caused power outages and brought down trees in Barbados and St. Lucia, per AP.

  • The National Weather Service tweeted on Wednesday morning that hurrican watches had also been issued for Vieques, Culebra and the U. S. Virgin Islands.
  • Authorities in Puerto Rico have closed schools early and prepared emergency shelter for tens of thousands of people ahead of Dorian's arrival, the New York Times reports.

What they're saying: Garced told a news conference she's "confident that the people of Puerto Rico are prepared," per the NYT.

  • San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told CNN that Puerto Rico's capital was much better prepared than when Maria struck in 2017.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest on Dorian.

Go deeper: The Atlantic Basin's tropical storms and hurricanes in 2019