While it was anticipated, it's good to finally get official word that President Obama has declared 13 counties in Minnesota as well as three tribal reservations a federal disaster area.  This opens the door to federal aid for Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Crow Wing, Dakota, Goodhue, Kandiyohi, Lake, Meeker, Pine, Rice, Sibley and St. Louis counties as well as the Fond du Lac Tribal Nation, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Grand Portage Tribal Nation.

Our partners at The Northland's News Center are reporting that the declaration includes two categories of aid:

• Public Assistance: Assistance to state and local government and certain private non-profit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. This applies within the counties in the disaster area.

• Hazard Mitigation Grant Program: Assistance to state and local government and certain private nonprofit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards. All counties in the state of Minnesota are eligible to apply for assistance under this program.

FEMA will fund 75% of the approved cost while the remaining 25% is a state/local match.