Washington - US President Barack Obama declared that megastorm Sandy had triggered "major disaster" in the states of New York and New Jersey and freed up federal aid for those who lost homes or businesses.
The declaration came after the massive storm battered the US East Coast, flooding lower Manhattan and coastal New Jersey and leaving millions of people across the densely populated eastern seaboard without power.
At least 12 people were killed in several states by falling trees and other storm hazards, with the toll likely to rise as rescue teams survey the damage.
The disaster declaration makes federal funding available for individuals, including grants and loans for temporary housing and home repairs.
Obama spent Monday at the White House overseeing the response to the disaster, taking a day off from the campaign trail a week before the 6 November presidential election.
His Republican rival Mitt Romney also cancelled some campaign appearances in response to the storm.