TRENTON - President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster exists in New Jersey after a severe storm battered the southern part of the state last month.

Wednesday's declaration means federal funds will now be available to state and local government to help rebuild and repair damage in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.

Gov. Chris Christie requested the aid last week and said the storm caused more than $15 million worth of damage and knocked out power to more than 300,000 people.

Christie sought the aid after preliminary assessments showed the state met federal eligibility requirements.

Some criticized Christie after the storm for not seeking help sooner and blamed his presidential campaign as a distraction.

Spokesman Kevin Roberts says the declaration was sought "promptly" after assessments were completed.