President Obama on Friday declared a major federal disaster for five southwestern Minnesota counties hit by an ice storm in early April. The disaster declaration includes Cottonwood, Jackson, Murray, Nobles and Rock counties. Governor 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% of approved costs.