By TOM BREEN and MARTHA WAGGONER
RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- President Barack Obama is declaring a major disaster for parts of North Carolina after last weekend's tornadoes.
The announcement Tuesday clears the way for residents to receive federal assistance.
Dozens of tornadoes in central and eastern North Carolina killed at least 23 people and damaged or destroyed more than 800 homes. The declaration affects 18 eastern and central counties.
Gov. Bev Perdue asked the president and to US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for help, seeking low-interest loans for farmers and loans and grants to help others repair their homes and businesses.
Perdue also says her office has set up a disaster relief fund that will accept donations.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)