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Editorial: Need for disaster declaration is clear

Power lines and poles sit on a roadside north of Rushmore as a result of extensive ice April 10 followed by a snowstorm the next day. (Veasey Conway(Daily Globe)

While we've known for more than two weeks that damage from April's ice storm and subsequent snowstorm was significant, it has now been officially quantified.

A letter forwarded Friday to President Barack Obama by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton indicated that more than $26.2 million of damage was done across southwest Minnesota. That total was broken down into sums from five counties -- Nobles, Jackson, Murray, Rock and Cottonwood -- with a majority ($16.04 million) incurred in Nobles County alone.

Dayton asks in the letter that a major disaster area be declared for the state. So, in another letter, has Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad, where the counties of Dickinson, Lyon, O'Brien, Osceola and Sioux suffered roughly $6 million in damage.

Now comes the waiting to see if the declaration is officially granted. Officials from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and Homeland Security Emergency Management indicated last week that disaster request documents will go to Chicago first, then to the White House. But even if a disaster declaration does come, it won't the financial cure-all some may think.

"While we're abundantly appreciative of the potential for federal assistance ... it's important to note this is for reimbursable expenses," Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark told the Daily Globe for Monday's edition. "There are a lot of things that are not reimbursable. There will be a significant cost for our community currently and going forward that won't be covered by both state and federal dollars."

When considering Clark's point -- and the fact that the $26.2 million estimated far exceeds the $7.2 million required for a federal disaster declaration -- we should have every reason to feel confident in our request being granted. We only hope the aforementioned waiting isn't too prolonged; the need, after all, is more than apparent.