Trump approves disaster declarations for Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands

President Trump has declared that major disasters exist in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Trump made the declarations official Wednesday night, according to the White House. The presidential disaster declarations provide federal funding for relief efforts in the two territories in the wake of Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm that made initial landfall early Wednesday.

The storm is projected to miss the east coast of the U.S. and head back into the Atlantic Ocean.

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Puerto Rico's Gov. Ricardo Rosselló called Maria the "most devastating storm to hit the island this century, if not in modern history," and said that it could be months before power is fully restored to the territory. The entire population of 3.4 million people was left without power after the storm passed Wednesday.

Rosselló instituted a curfew for the island's inhabitants Wednesday through Saturday that directs citizens to remain indoors between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

"We are at a critical moment in the effort to help thousands of Puerto Ricans that urgently need aid and to assess the great damage caused by Hurricane María," Rosselló said in a statement Wednesday.

"Maintaining public order will be essential so that the government authorities can execute the post-disaster action plan in the aftermath of this devastating hurricane," he continued.

Trump himself pledged to visit Puerto Rico after Maria passes, assuring residents ahead of the storm on Tuesday that "our hearts are with you."

“Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you-will be there to help!” Trump tweeted.

The National Hurricane Center described Maria as “potentially catastrophic,” predicting it would cause “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides." 

At least nine people have been reported killed by Maria so far, all of which so far have been elsewhere in the Caribbean.