COLUMBIA, S.C. - Gov. Nikki Haley is asking that President Obama declare almost half of South Carolina a federal disaster area following last month's winter storm that caused tens of millions of dollars in damage and cut power to hundreds of thousands.

Haley says that damages and storm response costs suffered by governments and electric cooperatives are in excess of $54 million. She's asking that 21 of the state's 46 counties be made eligible for federal disaster assistance.

The state Forestry Commission has scheduled a Wednesday news conference at the Statehouse to discuss damage to the state's forests. Officials have already said damage will exceed the almost $100 million to the state's forestlands during the winter storm of 2004.

Last month's storm also resulted in an estimated $15 million in private insurance claims.