LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Beebe asked President Barack Obama on Monday to declare a major disaster declaration for 15 Arkansas counties — including Van Buren County — hit hard by a winter storm that swept through the state earlier this month.

Those counties include Crawford, Franklin, Independence, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Newton, Polk, Scott, Searcy, Sebastian, Sharp and Van Buren.

The declaration would make Arkansas eligible to receive federal aid to help the state, cities and counties recover from infrastructure damage. State and federal damage assessments totaled more than $8.6 million.

The wintry mix of freezing rain and snow moved through the state on Dec. 5 and 6, leaving about 62,000 homes without power and roads and highways impassable.

One death was attributed to the storm. Boyd Wallace, 62, died Dec 5 when an ice-covered tree limb fell on his camper-trailer in Pope County.