Obama signs disaster declaration for northern Minnesota flooding

WASHINGTON — President Obama declared areas of northern Minnesota a major disaster area on Friday after last month’s severe flooding, freeing up federal money to help pay for clean-up efforts.

The disaster declaration covers 13 northeastern Minnesota counties and land for three Native American tribes, and allows the federal government to reimburse state and local governments and non-profit groups for up to 75 percent of the cost associated with repairing public property.

The declaration covers Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Crow Wing, Dakota, Goodhue, Kandiyohi, Lake, Meeker, Pine, Rice, Sibley and St. Louis counties, and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

The declaration comes after several days of torrential rains led to severe flooding in the Northland last month. Gov. Mark Dayton expects more than $100 million in damage to public infrastructure, and he plans to call a special session of the Legislature to approve state funding for the 25 percent of costs not covered by the federal government.

This disaster declaration covers only public property; the state plans to request separate federal money to cover damage to private property.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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