Obama signs disaster declaration for eight Minnesota counties

WASHINGTON — President Obama signed a disaster declaration Tuesday for eight Minnesota counties hit by severe flooding in June, and the list of covered counties could increase as officials calculate the full cost of the flooding.

The counties covered by the disaster declaration are: Chippewa, Freeborn, Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Renville and Rock. Gov. Mark Dayton’s office said more counties could gain federal assistance as officials complete their disaster damage assessment reports — officials had completed reports for the eight counties covered Monday before Dayton formally requested federal aid on July 9.

The disaster declaration means the federal government will cover 75 percent of approved repair and recovery costs for state and local governments as well as certain nonprofit groups. According to a release from Dayton’s office, damage assessors have found more than $37 million in eligible expenses so far.

June was the wettest month in Minnesota history, based on averaged rainfall totals, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Rainfall led to flooding problems so widespread that the entire state congressional delegation banded together to ask for assistance from the Obama administration earlier this month.

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

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