President Biden Declares Emergency as Hurricane Fiona Storms Through Puerto Rico

by Sean Griffin

President Biden declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico on Sunday as tropical storm Fiona picked up hurricane strength while barreling toward Puerto Rico, according to a White House statement.

The emergency declaration allows FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to coordinate disaster relief efforts, including protective measures.

Fiona neared hurricane strength as it rolls towards Puerto Rico. Heavy rains and mudslides are expected across Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Plenty of Twitter users reacted to the news online. “100% of the island without power,” one person commented the news of an island-wide power outage with the hurricane’s landfall.

“So we declare emergency before a small category 1 even hits the island????” one person wrote. Another responded, writing: “Yes. That’s how this works.”

Other commenters debated the emergency designation among other topics, including Puerto Rico potentially becoming a state.

One person shared their views on Puerto Rico’s potential statehood, a topic that is hotly debated among many on and off the island. “PR should be a state,” they wrote.

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. The island holds around 3.2 million residents, with its largest city being its capital San Juan.

Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917. They can move freely between the island and the mainland USA. However, since they are residents of an unincorporated territory, American citizens of Puerto Rico can’t vote at the national level. Moreover, they do not vote for the president or vice president and generally do not pay federal income tax.

Aside from Hurricane, Biden to Meet with Brittney Griner’s Wife

President Biden to meet with Brittney Griner’s wife at the White House, according to a report by Yahoo! News. The President will meet with Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, and Paul Whelan’s sister Elizabeth Whelan.

The subject of the meeting will reportedly be to “discuss [Biden’s] continuing commitment to bringing their family members home safely.”

Griner was locked up in February 2022 by Russian authorities. Russian officials discovered cannabis oil in her luggage at the airport. Reportedly, they found less than a gram of hash oil cartridges. Her trial began on July 1st, and she pled guilty to the charges. She received nine years at her sentencing on August 4th. She also paid a fine of $16,500.

Since her imprisonment by Russian authorities, U.S. officials have tried to get the country to release Griner back to the United States, matters complicated by Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine.

In recent weeks, the United States has been looking to organize a prisoner swap to bring Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan back into the states. Russia, in return, would receive Viktor Bout — also known as the “Merchant of Death.” Bout is a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving time in America.

Between the hurricane in Puerto Rico and the Brittney Griner situation, it seems like Joe Biden has a busy week.