In parts of the Philadelphia region, the difference between the historic rains wrung from the last two tropical storms was that Lee, inch for inch, outdid Irene.

So it's possible that, like Irene, Lee's wrath could eventually be designated a "major" disaster here, according to emergency management officials.

"The book is by no means closed," said Ruth Miller, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, which is still evaluating Lee's damage. "It was a bizarre, bizarre set of storms."

President Obama declared Irene a major disaster earlier this month for parts of Pennsylvania and all of New Jersey. On Tuesday, his declaration was expanded to include Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.

As a result, residents of Philadelphia and all eight neighboring counties now can apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for "individual assistance" - low-interest loans and grants - to repair storm damage to homes and other property. This is the first time all have been eligible for such aid since the record drought of 1965, according to FEMA records.

"It's a big deal when the President makes this decision," said William Travis, director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado.

The Irene aid will be available for damages that occurred only between Aug. 26 and Aug. 30, said FEMA spokesman Mike Wade.

Lee, which affected the state Sept. 6 through 8, has been declared a major disaster for the Susquehanna Valley, the site of catastrophic flooding, but not for the Philadelphia area - at least not yet.

"Lee was worse than Irene," said Ed Truitt, Delaware County's emergency management chief.

Lee was far more consequential in upstate Pennsylvania than it was in the Philadelphia region. Vice President Biden, who grew up in the Scranton area, toured the flood-damaged town of Duryea on Friday.

But even in some spots around Philadelphia, Lee's rainfall totals were heftier than Irene's. Officially at Philadelphia International Airport, Lee deposited 6.35 inches, compared with 5.70 for Irene. In Doylestown, it was Lee over Irene 7.34 to 5.65; in Conshohocken, 7.99 to 7.17; and in Center City, 7.34 to 5.73.

It may take years to tabulate the final price tags for Irene and Lee in what is likely to be one of the costlier disaster years. With more than three months and almost half a hurricane season to go, the 83 major disasters declared throughout the nation so far this year already have set a record for any entire calendar year.

Centers are operating in Pemberton, Burlington County, and Clayton, Gloucester County.

Contact staff writer Anthony R. Wood at 610-761-8423 or twood@phillynews.com

Inquirer staff writer Jeremy Roebuck and the Associated Press contributed to this article.