President Barack Obama declared Thursday that a major disaster exists in the state of Minnesota and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms and flooding beginning on March 16.

As a result of combination of a snowstorm in Canada and a severe rain storm in Minnesota, the Red River reached record heights over the weekend of March 26, cresting at 40.82 feet. The previous record for flooding on the Red River had been 40.10 feet, set back in 1897.

The situation was further complicated by a severe snowstorm that struck Minnesota in the week following the flood, hampering both rescue efforts and efforts to combat the flood waters.

With Thursday's declaration, Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding in Clay, Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Polk, Traverse, and Wilkin Counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Michael Smith has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

Meanwhile, FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.

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