Obama declares disaster areas in 7 Minn. counties

Published 1:03 pm Friday, July 2, 2010

President Barack Obama has declared disaster areas in seven Minnesota counties following last month’s storms, making the counties eligible for federal funding.

The White House on Friday declared disaster areas in Faribault, Freeborn, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Polk, Steele, and Wadena counties.

The counties were hit hard by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding from June 17-26. Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s office says early damage estimates show 842 homes were hit by the storms, causing damages expected to top $35 million.

A disaster declaration frees up federal recovery assistance, small-business loans and other aid.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, says more counties could be declared disaster areas if the state requests additional designations and federal officials confirm the need.