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Obama declares SW Minn. counties major disaster areas after ice storm

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President Barack Obama Friday declared five counties in southwestern Minnesota major disaster areas in the aftermath of a devastating ice and snow storm last month, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

The declaration came a week after Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter to Obama asking for federal assistance to help the counties recover from the devastation.

Dayton said in his letter to to the president that damage to the infrastructure in five counties – Cottonwood, Jackson, Murray, Nobles and Rock — was estimated at $26 million. The state Department of Public Safety estimated that $19 million in damages alone was done to utilities.

According to MPR, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover about three-quarters of the cost of cleanup and repairs for damaged public structures.

Several cities suffered major damage during the winter storm April 9 and 10, where ice coated Worthington and surrounding communities. The weight caused by the heavy ice contributed to the damage of thousands of trees and utility poles, and thousands of people lost power. A heavy snow storm followed, hampering recovery efforts.

Dayton is also expected to seek state aid to help with the recovery efforts before the Legislature adjourns May 20, the Pioneer Press reports.

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