WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump has approved a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico, the White House said on Thursday, one day after Hurricane Maria cut a devastating path across the US territory.
Trump's approval releases federal funding to residents of the Caribbean island impacted by the monster storm, which knocked out Puerto Rico's entire electricity grid after roaring ashore as a major Category Four hurricane.
"Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts," the White House said in a statement.
Federal aid includes grants for home repairs and temporary shelter as well as low-coast loans to pay for uninsured property losses.
Maria has thus far been blamed for 10 deaths in the Caribbean, and though the storm has swirled back out to sea, Puerto Rico is now girding for potentially catastrophic flash flooding.
"If possible, move to higher ground NOW!" the National Weather Service station in San Juan warned in a tweet.
Now a Category Three storm packing 115 mile (185 kilometer) per hour winds, Maria is forecast to pass north of the Dominican Republic Thursday as it moves toward the Turks and Caicos Islands, according to the US National Hurricane Center.