President Trump on Thursday approved a disaster declaration for the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma hit the group of Caribbean islands, a move that will unlock federal funding for those affected by the storm, the White House said.
The federal aid will supplement recovery efforts in the Virgin Islands as the U.S. territory shifts to rebuilding after the category 5 hurricane. The funding can be used for grants for temporary housing and home repairs, as well as low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses for those living on the islands of St. John and St. Thomas.
The president declared a state of emergency in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands in anticipation of Hurricane Irma earlier this week.
The category 5 hurricane hit the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, bringing with it sustained winds of 180 miles per hour. Widespread damage was reported, and more than 1 million people in Puerto Rico were left without power.
The storm is expected to make landfall in Florida on Sunday, and mandatory evacuation offers were in effect for the Florida Keys, and parts of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
The federal government expects evacuation orders to be issued for Georgia, South Carolina, and South Carolina within the next 48 hours.