ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -

President Barack Obama has declared a major federal disaster for five southwestern Minnesota counties hit by an April ice storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says Obama declared the disaster for Cottonwood, Jackson, Murray, Nobles and Rock counties.

Gov. Mark Dayton requested the designation. The storm downed power lines and caused widespread power outages. Preliminary assessments peg the damage at more than $26 million.

The declaration clears the way for federal aid. Governments and certain private nonprofits in the disaster area can get help for emergency work and repairing or replacing damaged facilities.

Assistance also is available to state and local governments and nonprofits for steps taken to reduce risks from natural hazards. All counties in Minnesota are eligible under that program.

FEMA will reimburse 75 percent of approved costs.