Earlier this week President Obama declared a disaster in eight Minnesota counties suffering from heavy rains and high water, opening the door to federal recovery money for washed-out roads and other local infrastructure. Fifty-eight federal disasters have been declared in Minnesota in the past half century, according to data obtained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Most followed floods, tornadoes and other severe storms, although drought, the 2007 bridge collapse, forest fires and the arrival of Hurricane Katrina refugees also triggered disaster declarations.
The pace of declarations has accelerated, with 200 counties so far declared disaster areas from 2011 through this year. Extreme weather is one explanation, but so is the increasing willingness of presidents of both parties to make extreme weather events a federal responsibility. Use the slider below to explore disaster declarations over the years.