PATERSON - President Barack Obama was in New Jersey yesterday for a tour of the flood damage that Hurricane Irene left behind.

Obama flew to Newark and took a helicopter to Paterson for a first-hand look at the aftermath of the big storm that struck the Atlantic Coast.

In Paterson, the Passaic River flooded the city's downtown and forced hundreds to evacuate.

The president also announced that all 21 counties in New Jersey have now been declared major disaster areas following Hurricane Irene. The designation allows those not eligible for insurance coverage to receive federal funding for repairs and temporary housing.

It also allows for federal help with other needs, such as unemployment assistance and small business loans.

Obama told hopeful residents that federal help was coming despite a brewing battle over funding on Capitol Hill. President Obama tours flood-damaged New JerseyHurricane Irene: From Coast to Crest FEMA opens hotline, website for NJ Paterson residents finally allowed back home after storm