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Obama signs disaster declaration for Northern Mariana Islands in Typhoon Soudelor aftermath

By Amy R. Connolly
President Obama signed a disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands in the aftermath of Typhoon Soudelor. Photo courtesy CNMI Office of Public Information & Protocol
1 of 5 | President Obama signed a disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands in the aftermath of Typhoon Soudelor. Photo courtesy CNMI Office of Public Information & Protocol

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- President Obama signed a disaster declaration Thursday for the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and ordered federal aid for the U.S. territory after a typhoon caused devastating destruction.

The declaration means residents and government entities are eligible for federal funds for work that includes emergency repairs and damages. The assistance may also include grants for temporary housing and low-cost loans for uninsured property damages.

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"We are grateful to our president for recognizing that our island is in great need of help and at this point we will continue working with our federal partners to ensure we get the help we need to recover fully from this storm," acting Gov. Ralph Torres said.

Typhoon Soudelor ripped through the U.S. territory in the Pacific on Sunday evening with winds up to 105 mph, causing massive damages particularly on the 48-square-mile island of Saipan, which has a population of 53,000. By Friday, many still did not have running water or electricity.

Saipan is the largest island in the Mariana Islands archipelago, after Guam.

The typhoon is expected to slam into Taiwan's east coast early Saturday with winds up to 125 mph.

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