Page images
PDF
EPUB

would they, if they had been an individual capable of being sued, have been negligent in that case? It was disposed of by passing this bill calling for millions of dollars of relief for those people.

Such legislation as this, if we had had it, would have answered that question immediately. And it would have repaid a great many of those people for their property loss, at least.

So I see no impediment in the fact that this is broad. I hope that I am right. I think the hearings might develop that.

Senator LEHMAN. I would like to clarify one thing. If you will read my bill—and I do not know whether the same provision is in the other pieces of legislation submitted—you will find that very wide authority and discretion is given to the Administrator to cover such disasters as may seem in his opinion feasible or practicable. I do not know what attitude the other House of Congress is going to take on this matter. I think that it is highly important that this committee go into the question on the broadest kind of a scale.

Whether the committee will want to separate these various activities or coverages, I do not know. And it should be entirely within the discretion of the committee and then of the Congress.

But I would hope, and unless the committee overrode me I would espect, to survey this whole subject from a very broad standpoint.

Senator Bush. Mr. Chairman, I know of no argument against that. I was just trying to develop the Congressman's thinking about this question, and he has made a very good point--that the broader the area backing we get for this, the better chance we have to get some legislation, which will probably include flood-damage insurance. On the other hand, working against it is the bigger the program you get into, the more comprehensive it is, the more expensive it becomes, and you have another force working against it which may end up that you get nothing, and you would not have any flood insurance which is principally the thing on our minds at the present time.

So that you have there those two rather conflicting elements that the committee will have to consider, and I was just trying to develop your thoughts on that, if you had any.

Mr. THOMPSON. Well, these are definite facts, and they have occurred to me. I think some development of them will have to be done before it becomes apparent. I might say, however, that if we have flood insurance and hypothetically eliminate the other questions for the moment certainly we should have flood insurance, notwithstanding the fact that it might be expensive, that will be adequate to the needs of the people.

It is really pathetic to see your constituents, and I know you have seen them, come in and say, "Well, the Small Business Administration feels that I can support a loan of $18,000. I need $32,000. What in the world am I going to do for the difference?"

The private lending institutions have been very cooperative. But these things are not enough-because, as Senator Lehman said, the fact that a house is washed away does not wipe the mortgage off the county clerk's records, and the mortgagee still looks to be paid.

Senator Bush. Mr. Chairman, the testimony down in Washington developed that there are available such things as tornado insurance for wind damage, there is a crop-insurance program in being in 14 States, I think it is, 800 counties, and there were 2 other kinds of disaster insurance available to people who want to buy it. Will Mr. McKenna correct me on that.

Mr. McKENNA. I think it is a fair statement, Senator, to say generally that private insurers offer a type of insurance against all risks on real property, with the exception of what they generically describe as flood insurance. When they say flood, they include flood, tidal wave, high water, and wind-driven water. The other exception is, of course, the prospect of contamination of the atmosphere through radioactive materials. Apart from that, there is generally available a private insurance plan for anyone who wishes to pay the cost of obtaining it. Obviously those have to be set on actuarial rates. At times, according to the risk involved, they are rather high. But the private companies do offer it. They also offer partial coverage on flood losses, as Mr. Crystal brought out here. But it generally does not cover real property as such.

Mr. Thompson. Senator, I have comprehensive insurance on my home, which took care of the damage to it by Hurricane Connie. But living on the river, if I had been flooded out, which I was not, I would have had none.

Senator Bush. All I wanted to suggest was this. You are going to sponsor legislation in the House and we are all going to be watching what you do over there just as keenly as what we do. I suggest that you consider the question of insurance that is already available for disasters of various kinds, as Mr. McKenna has pointed out, and that you

consider whether in view of these various other forms of disaster insurance, we want to load this bill up with various types of insurance in addition to the flood and tidal wave flooding because the more you put on it, the heavier the load is going to be to carry.

Mr. THOMPSON. I agree with you.
Senator Bush. That is all I suggest.

Mr. THOMPSON. I will watch the results of these hearings with great interest. I would like to assure you that those of us in the House who are interested in this will coordinate our activities and cooperate with you to the fullest possible extent so that we can get something meritorious out of this.

Senator Bush. I have no further questions.
Senator Ives. I have nothing further.

Senator LEHMAN. I just want to make one point clear with regard to the study which this committee intends to carry on and continue, on the whole question of disaster insurance.

We were very anxious to hear from the insurance companies and urgently requested the representative of the insurance companies to appear before us this morning. I was disappointed, as I know others have been, to learn that Mr. Herd had notified the staff and the members of the committee that the insurance companies were not yet ready to report on this thing. As you know, he asked for a postponement of his testimony.

Senator Busi. Mr. Chairman, will he testify before us at Hartford or some other place?

Senator LEHMAN. I do not know just where he will testify, but he will testify before us.

Mr. EDELSTEIN. Mr. Chairman, the staff has been in touch with him, and he merely told us that he was not prepared and the flood-control committee of the insurance companies, of which he is chairman, is not prepared to testify at this time. That is all we know.

Senator LEHMAN. Thank you very much, Congressman.

Our next witness is Mr. William H. Falcey, who is the civil-defense director of Mercer County, N. J. STATEMENT OF WILLIAM H. FALCEY, CIVIL DEFENSE DIRECTOR,

MERCER COUNTY, N. J. Mr. Falczy. Mr. Chairman, distinguished Senators, I am the civildefense director and coordinator for Mercer County, which is situated in the Fourth Congressional District, the Honorable Frank J. Thompson's district. I come here to express a few words in behalf of the citizens of Mercer County. I serve without pay as civil-defense director. I serve as a county commissioner, for which I do get paid.

I am solely responsible for the lives of approximately 250,000 people. During the flood we had four principal municipalities inundated and stricken-Hopewell Township, Pennington Township, the city of Trenton, and Hamilton Township.

I heard kind words of praise today for many agencies. I did not hear the entire testimony, but I would like to go on record in behalf of the civil-defense volunteers because of the magnificent response they gave to the whole cause. Particularly may I emphasize the fact that as I made surveys in my home and my own county I noticed many of the civil-defense workers whose homes and businesses had been devastated were out working, trying to control the flood.

I want to emphasize the immediacy that is necessary for insurance. I heard Senator Bush say that you would be looking toward the House of Representatives, and I want to say that we in Mercer County will be looking both toward the House of Representatives and the Senate for proper and feasible legislation in regard to insurance.

I thank you for the opportunity to be here, sir.

Senator Bush. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to say I am awfully glad to hear this testimony on behalf of the civil-defense workers. I think certainly he has stated it very mildly. In our State I do not

I know what we would have done without the civil-defense organization. I do not hesitate to say that their immediate entrance into this catastrophe, this emergency, undoubtedly saved many lives, and no doubt saved untold property damage. It was a very inspiring thing, indeed, to see this civil-defense organization wheel into service. And that includes many of our small local fire companies, too, who are involved in the civil-defense organization in our communities.

I certainly congratulate the gentleman for coming here and making this statement about the civil defense.

Mr. FALCEY. I would like to add on that, when you talk about fire companies, of course, that is the whole nucleus of it. It incorporates many activities, many branches-it is fire, police, medical, transportation, air, religion, and other welfare or other phases of it which are so designed within the table of organization of civil defense and disaster-control mechanism.

Senator Bush. There is one thing I hope these hearings will bring out. At times we have had trouble getting enlistments for civil defense in some of our communities. You have been pretty fortunate down your way, perhaps. But it has always been a struggle, since the war, to keep our civil defense organization up to minimum strength. It is very hard to get people civil-defense minded when things are going along pretty good. But I think the flood has demonstrated the necesa sity of having in being a strong, active, volunteer civil defense organization.

Mr. Falcey. And trained. I am glad you brought that up, Senator, because as we found out in the food—we had a meeting in Boston, all the States involved in this--and it was brought out that there was a magnificent response of personnel. The voluntary response was great. But it seemed that we were just overworked because we could not fill in the gaps. We did not have the properly trained people. Yes, we had them on a scale which would possibly carry us into 24 hours. But we could not continue. And many of us spent as much as 66 hours with catnaps and no other rest. We certainly need in America today a well-integrated and a voiun

a tary-trained organization. Because as I always point out when I talk

to people, you could have bet a million dollars on December 6, 1941, that we would not have been attacked the next day, There is a great climate of understanding now that exists in the world, but we still have to be on our guard.

Senator Ives. I want to join in Senator Bush's praise of the civil defense units and agencies. They did a magnificent job in New York State. And that applies to the police forces in the various localities. The firemen are also included, because they are part of the civil.lefense units. I do not think they could be praised highly enough.

Mr. FALCEY. Thank you very much for the kind words. Senator LEHMAN. Thank you very much. I share in the encomiums of my colleagues.

Our next witness will be Maj. Gen. Robert Condon. General, we are glad to have you here. I am particularly glad to see you. We have been friends for a good many years, and you have always been very cooperative. I am glad you are going to testify. I do not know whether you have a prepared statement or not. STATEMENT OF MAJ. GEN. ROBERT CONDON, DIRECTOR OF CIVIL

DEFENSE AND CHAIRMAN OF METROPOLITAN AREA, DEFENSE PLANNING BOARD, NEW YORK CITY

General CONDON. I have not.

Senator LEHMAN. Then you may just proceed in the manner that seems most desirable to you.

General CONDON. I think you have just heard some of the things that I had planned to say in connection with civil defense so perhaps I had better just submit myself to the committee to see if they have any questions to ask me, sir.

Senator LEHMAN. I think if you could give us some statement of what is being done now, and also express yourself with regard to the provisions of the various proposals that have been made, that would be helpful.

General CONDON. Yes, sir. Well, may I first, then, sir, add my voice to praising the work of the volunteers. That is our civil defense organization. During August and again during October we called for volunteers, and they are the people who very largely made it possible. Senator Bush, for us to send equipment to Connecticut. They manned that equipment. We skirted a little, perhaps, on the law, but no one has done very much about that since, and we are not very bothered about it.

Senator Bush. Mr. Chairman, I certainly want to acknowledge very gratefully the assistance you sent to Connecticut. We certainly needed it. I do not know what we would have done without it. It seems as though it was indispensable, and there it was.

General Condon. I want to endorse the statements made by the previous gentlemen.

The civil defense organization, as it is established, certainly in this State, provides an instrument of helpfulness that we do not seem to lind any other place. It is unusual that the mass support of that comes from volunteers.

I would like to address myself, if I might, perhaps a little philosophically, to the approach on this proposal the committee has undertaken.

I can see that a Federal disaster act of some kind would very readily set the pattern for many of our activities in the future. I visualize that perhaps our roadbuilding, our bridgebuilding, our residential developments and other developments would in themselves fall into a pattern. Our public officials and private developers would fall into a pattern of protection against natural disaster and other disaster by having a magna carta of the law that would indicate that insurance was available if it was done this way, and if it was higher priced it was not available, if it did not recognize such riverbeds wherever they

a

may be.

I feel rather keenly that, after some limited experience, but rather definite experience in the last 2 or 3 months in connection with the floods in this area, our people, particularly the persons who have been referred to as the little people, the families, the little-store keeper, the farmer, are entitled to some protection against both natural and enemy-caused disaster.

Having been among them considerably in 3 or 4 States, it was easy to discern that their grief was greatly augmented by their anticipation that they had no place to go, they did not have a home, they saw their livestock lost, their homes lost, their automobiles were gone, their delivery trucks were gone. They could not look forward with confidence. Then, of course, in your State in particular, where it happened the second time in a few weeks, Senator Bush, I was particularly impressed by the fact that on two occasions in your State

persons came up to me with whom I had had conversations about the loss of their homes—a home in one instance and livestock in the other. The man came up, and he had acquired, through the help of some neighbors, 11 pieces of livestock. He lost 9 of them again, having lost 60 before. He was in a very low state of mind. Unfortunately, that seems to be general, and we have no control over where these things are going to happen again.

I feel that there is an obligation to the American public. I hope that we have a new perspective on this and that our perspective becomes one of serious thinking and not of emotional reaction. I hope that the Federal Civil Defense will be made directly responsible and that there will be the coordination that can come only from legal authority.

« PreviousContinue »