IMAGE: WATER OVER INTERSTATE
Dean J. Koepfler  /  AP
Washington state engineer Glenn Schneider stands near the concrete highway barrier separating North and Southbound I-5 near milepost 80 south of Centralia, Wash., on Wednesday.
updated 12/8/2007 9:56:43 PM ET 2007-12-09T02:56:43

President Bush declared a federal disaster for 11 counties in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, clearing the way for federal aid after severe storms ravaged parts of Oregon and Washington.

The declaration provides recovery assistance to five northwestern Oregon and six southwestern Washington counties. It does not include assistance for individuals.

The disaster declaration says the federal government will reimburse 75 percent of the public cost for disaster response in those designated areas. It also creates a grant program that would provide federal money to take steps to reduce damage from future disasters such as burying utility lines.

FEMA spokeswoman Debbie Wing said more types of assistance could be granted and more counties could be covered as floodwaters recede and officials get a better look at the damage.

Oregon and Washington saw severe flooding, landslides and mudslides as the result of storms that hit the coast Dec. 1-3. Eight deaths were blamed on the disaster: two in Oregon and six in Washington, including a pair of hikers in the Cascade Mountains.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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