President Obama has already declared New York and New Jersey as major disaster areas, an unusually early action reflecting the massive damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

Disaster declarations are normally made after post-storm assessments, but officials said the obvious problems justified extraordinary action.

"This was so evident how bad it was that the president said, 'let's just get this done,'" said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on The Weather Channel.

The announcement said that, In New York, "the President's action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Richmond, Suffolk, and Queens."

The New Jersey action affects the counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union.

"Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster," say both declarations.

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