MOORHEAD (AP) -- Gov. Jesse Ventura urged flood victims of northwestern Minnesota to ''keep your chins up,'' promising the state will be a strong partner in their recovery efforts.
''We will be there. We're all in this together,'' Ventura said Tuesday in Moorhead as he kicked off a 12-city bus tour of the northwestern part of the state, much of it still waterlogged from a heavy storm a week earlier.
Moorhead, just across the Red River from Fargo, N.D., received more than 7 inches of rain in an eight-hour period last Monday and Tuesday.
During a public forum at a Scandinavian heritage museum, Ventura assured local leaders and flood victims that his office was doing everything possible to speed disaster aid to the area. And he said he is confident that residents won't give up.
''You face disaster after disaster, but the good thing is, you keep your sights set forward,'' Ventura said. ''I have all the confidence you wll meet the challenge.''
The governor's bus trip to northwestern Minnesota was scheduled several months prior to last week's downpour.
On Monday, the governor declared a state of emergency in 14 northwestern counties. The declaration starts the process for determining the need for federal disaster aid and lets state agencies provide assistance to local governments.
Ventura said initial assessments of the damage and visits with local leaders made it clear aid was needed.
In Washington, President Clinton on Tuesday declared major disaster areas in parts of Minnesota and North Dakota struck by severe storms and flooding the past two months.
The announcement brings federal aid to supplement local recovery efforts in a seven-county area of Minnesota that experienced heavy storms and flooding beginning on May 17 and 18 counties and Indian reservations hit by flooding and ground saturation starting on June 12.
The counties in Minnesota are Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower and Winona.
Ventura acknowledged the hardship. But he said besides federal disaster aid and existing agriculture programs, there may be little state government can do to help.
''You would love to give more money,'' he said, but that is seldom an option.
The reality for some farmers is that they must choose whether to risk another disaster or another year of poor prices, the governor said.
''That's an individual farmer's choice whether to go on,'' he added. ''I'm certainly not qualified to make that choice.''
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.