Obama signs disaster declaration for counties hit by solstice storms

Assessing the damage.
Assessing the damage.

Few things can bring Keith Ellison and Michele Bachmann together, but one of them is a disaster.

See Also:
- Gov. Dayton asks Obama to declare federal disaster in Minnesota
- Minnesota asks FEMA for help cleaning up after the solstice storms
- Two weeks after the Solstice Storms, restaurants that lost power still recovering

Last week, both members of congress -- along with Gov. Mark Dayton, Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and four other U.S. reps -- asked President Barack Obama to issue a disaster declaration for the 18 counties in Minnesota hardest-hit by the solstice storms.

Yesterday, he did. The presidential signature means that now, the feds can step in with more funds to help clean-up and rebuild infrastructure and public property. Preliminary assessments peg the tab for recovery at $17.8 million, a good $10 million higher than initial estimates.

To be exact, FEMA -- the federal emergency agency -- will cover 75 percent of approved costs, which include $9 million for roads and bridges, $5 million for debris, and $1.8 million for emergency protection, as well as other amounts for water control, equipment, utilities, and parks.

The storms raged throughout the state from June 20 to June 26, ripping thousands and trees from the ground and resulting in the largest power outage in Minnesota history. At its peak, the storm poured two inches of rain every hour, and left 600,000 buildings without electricity.

While Hennepin County is on the list to qualify for federal aid, Ramsey County, which includes St. Paul, didn't make the cut. Here's every county on the list: Benton, Big Stone, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, McLeod, Morrison, Pope, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, and Wilkin.

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