Gov. Norm Bangerter, recovering from exploratory knee surgery, is expected to sign a document Thursday declaring flood-damaged southwestern Utah areas a disaster.

Bangerter would have reviewed and signed the document earlier, but he was in too much pain following the operation, his aides said.The document is a formality state officials hope will lead to financial help from the federal government. Aides to Bangerter said they plan to formally ask the federal government for assistance early next week. If government officials agree to help, they will likely offer low-interest loans and grants to victims.

Doctors at the University of Utah Hospital operated on Bangerter earlier this week to examine cartilage and arthritis damage in his right knee. Although he is expected to recover in time to deliver his annual state of the state address next week, Bangerter may eventually choose to undergo a total knee replacement, hospital officials said.