Page images
PDF
EPUB

Senator LEHMAN. Mayor, will you proceed.

Mayor COLE. As a matter of fact, Senator, I think it could possibly have been detrimental to this investigation, because I did not know whether to really come to this meeting or not. It was only my interest in our own city and State and the future of the people of the State of New York and other States that prompted me to come here to answer any questions, or present my views.

During the last 4 years while I have held public office, I have always had an official invitation to appear at various hearings before various committees. I really didn't know whether to take this invitation too seriously, as far as time was concerned. I have also learned to read the papers and not always believe what we have published in the papers.

Does the Senator wish to direct a question to me at this time?
Senator LEHMAN. You are the mayor, are you not?
Mayor COLE. Yes, sir.
Senator LEHMAN. How long have you been mayor?

.
Mayor COLE. I am completing the 4th year.

Senator LEHMAN. You are very much interested in this whole situation?

Mayor COLE. Very much.

Senator LEHMAN. You are representing the people, not only of your city, but probably other people in the community.

Mayor COLE. Yes, sir.

Senator LEHMAN. Whether you received an invitation or not, may I say with very deep respect, that it would not have been an unusual or unnatural thing if you had asked to appear. Mayors have done that-governors have done that.

Mr. EDELSTEIN. Mr. Chairman, may I just say for the record, since I, under the general direction and on behalf of the committee staff, set up the technical arrangements for this hearing, we wanted to have a hearing at which we would get the representatives of the interested parties throughout this area. It would have been impossible to issue individual invitations to all the local officials of all this entire area, covering 4 or 5 counties. We therefore issued a press release out of Washington from the committee headquarters, and informed such individuals as we could that the hearing was to be held, and asked for the cooperation of the press in spreading the word, so that those who were interested could arrange to be present. We could not have invited all the local officials of these four counties.

Senator Ives. Well, in that connection, did it occur to you that it might be well to send a notice to the clerks of the various boards of supervisors involved? They would be the natural ones to whom

? you would make this approach.

Senator LEHMAN. Well, now, may I interrupt. I think this is a silly business. Senator, you know perfectly well that anybody who wanted to come here would have been welcome. I do not know whether the chairman of the Democratic county committee urged people to come here, but certainly the chairman of the board of supervisors, who I assume is certainly deeply interested in this matter, and certainly the chairman of the Republican county committee, who I assume is reasonably interested in this matter, could also have urget his people to come.

I am glad to say that we have had a very representative body of people here. We have had the mayors of many of the large cities in the county. We have had representatives of the boards of supervisors. We have had farmers. I can assure you, I have no idea whether any of those people are Democrats or Republicans. I would assume, knowing the political complexion of this county, that the majority of them were members of the Republican Party. But I am glad. That is what we are having this meeting for.

Unless you have anything further to say, Senator Ives, I would like to and would be very glad indeed to hear from the mayor.

Mayor COLE. Well, Senator, of course you are all aware that this flood caught us totally unprepared. I have been very much interested in the presentation that Mr. McMurray made.

I, however, feel that it is the State's obligation to business and to homeowners,

to the population of the State. After all, we as residents of the State of New York are really the State's children. That does not mean that the State should necessarily take care of us. But where there are acts of God, I cannot for the life of me see how the State or any private corporation can set up an insurance plan where the average farmer, the average businessman, the average homeowner,

, who lives, maybe, in, let's say, the Wallkill Valley or the valley of the Delaware and the Neversink, can carry an insurance policy to cover him in case of flood.

During the past 4 or 5 years the State of New York has carried on a program to encourage industry to come into our State. You cannot hate the State of New York for doing that. Connecticut has probably done that, too. We want industry to use our natural resources, the waters from our rivers.

I think that it behooves every State in the Union, regardless of whether it is New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Connecticut, to guarantee to its inhabitants some form of financial support in case of flood. I would not include fire. I think that can be covered.

Senator Ives. That is already covered.

Mayor COLE. Yes. It was mentioned here, I do believe, by Mr. MeMurray. But I think it should hold true in case of flood or war, otherwise we might have an exodus of our property owners, homeowners, businessmen, leaving an area that might be affected by flood.

You might say we can build dams up on our streams. That is very well, too. But that cannot be accomplished tomorrow or next year. But the fact still remains that we had considerable damage from streams such as were flowing through Ellenville, Wurtsboro, and Stroudsburg. The State or Federal Government' would not think of putting dams on those streams.

Then there is another thought. I believe that all private dams on these inland waters should come under State supervision. Whether it should be controlled as to the amount of volume of water impounded or not, I don't know. I feel very positive that the damage done to Route 42 and the rapid rise of our Delaware River in this recent flood was caused by private dams that gave way, that were not prepared to stand the strain of the water that they were prepared to impound.

This perhaps is deviating from the insurance idea.

I do, however, feel that all the large dam installations that are on these various streams should be equipped with radio so that when one and years.

of these storms hits, or when danger might affect the areas below, where the condition of the dam might inflict damage upon the areas below, those areas could be informed.

The city of Port Jervis experienced something like that. We have dams above us. We have dams on the Mongaup River. We have a dam over in Pennsylvania on the Lackawaxen River, which would necessarily affect the welfare of the city of Port Jervis if they gave way. This flood in August caught us very unprepared. We had no idea as to the condition of the dams on the Mongaup or the Wallenpaupeck Dam.

I think Mr. Gurda has a definite problem, such as we have had in the city of Port Jervis. We cannot expect the Red Cross, the Catholic charities, or the Salvation Army necessarily to come in and take care of all the damage that has been done by a flood. After all, a flood is an act of God. You cannot say it is due to neglect of man, even though we have been contemplating damming these streams for years

Senator Ives. Well, sometimes it is due to the neglect of man, when buildings are where they should not be.

Mayor COLE. Well, it is a matter of opinion whether buildings should or should not be there. We have a new industry breaking ground in Port Jervis now. The ground is broken. The steel has arrived. The land was purchased in July. The man was in New York at the time of the flood. He called and said, “Is my ground under water?" Well, fortunately it was not. But it was along the river.

Senator Ives. I know your terrain in Port Jervis. How could you have zoning ordinances in Port Jervis where floods are concerned?

Mayor COLE. I do not think you could.

Senator Ives. You would have to evacuate everybody below the hill.

Mayor COLE. Yes, sir. The Federal and State Governments built a dike along the Delaware, assuming that it would be practical for all time.

Senator LEHMAN. Mayor, you referred in your testimony to the responsibility of the State to do these things, if I understood you correctly.

Mayor COLE. Yes, sir.
Senator LEHMAN. You mentioned New York State specifically.
Mayor COLE. I am a resident of New York State.

Senator LEHMAN. Of course, I would be very glad indeed to have all communities get as much help from their own States, including New York State, as possible. But that is, of course, a decision that must be reached by the legislatures of the States, and by their administration. The hearings we are holding are in connection with Federal legislation. We are representing the Members of the Senate, the two Houses of the Congress and the President of the United States, in the organization of this matter. We cannot, of course, issue or propose any legislation within a State, even though we may be very much interested. Our task is Federal legislation.

May I ask you-do you favor or are you opposed to the principle that is incorporated in the Federal legislation!

Mayor COLE. I am opposed to it. I think that it is the same as private industry. A State can use a plan, such as I have advanced here this morning, as perhaps a promotional device. After all, every State is after industry. I know that and you know it. Our own

. locality right now is entertaining a proposal from a corporation which might well locate along the Delaware River. If it is locating in the State of New York, where the State of New York would guarantee to give financial aid and support in case of flood damage, I think it would do a lot in convincing this corporation to locate in our neighborhood and use the waters of the Delaware River.

Senator Ives. What you are proposing, in effect, Mayor, is an additional tax on the people of the State of New York for this purpose.

Mayor Cole. We want to keep the people of the State of New York satisfied.

Senator Ives. I agree with you on that. But we have 47 other States, and a lot of them are in the same position. And while Senator Lehman and I are primarily interested in the State of New Yorklet there be no question about that we have got to recognize in this committee we are present representing all 48 States and the Territories. It has been proposed that an additional tax be levied. You were not here when the superintendent of insurance spoke. I asked him about that. That was proposed yesterday—that an additional Federal income tax be levied. What you are proposing is the same thing, but it applies to the State of New York. That is where your money is coming from, and it is going to guarantee these localities against loss of their business, isn't it?

Mayor COLE. That is right, it is. And of course the welfare of the State depends on the welfare of the industry and homeowners of the State.

Senator Ives. What you are saying in effect is that we should have this kind of guaranty, this kind of insurance, only you are proposing it be done by the States.

Mayor COLE. That is right.

Senator LEHMAN. I am very glad that we have developed that. I think it is extremely valuable to have everybody's point of view, whether one agrees with it or not. So I am very glad indeed to have the expression of your opinion. But I want to be sure I understood your testimony correctly. In other words, you are against Federal insurance against flood or other disasters, and you want to place the entire burden on each individual State.

Mayor COLE. That would be my first conclusion; yes, sir.
Senator LEHMAN. All right. Thank you very much, sir.

Mavor COLE. It is a pleasure to be here with you, and I am very glad that I did believe the newspaper.

Senator LEHMAN. Commissioner McMurray has asked me to read the following:

For the record, it should be pointed out that Commissioner McMurray made no statement that the Federal Government should insure against any hazards already insurable by the private insurance companies.

I want to say that if anybody wants to file a statement for the record, in addition to his testimony, either in substitution for or in addition to any statements that he might make orally, he may do so. The record will be held open for at least 2 weeks more.

а.

We will now recess until 2:15.

(Whereupon, at 1:30 p. m., a recess was taken until 2:15 p. m. of the same day.)

AFTERNOON SESSION

Senator LEHMAN. The hearing will resume. Senator Ives and I are very sorry we are a little late in reconvening this hearing. We had lunch in the very excellent inn alongside the courthouse, and I do not know whether the food was so good or our appetites were so large that caused the delay. But we are glad to be here now.

Mrs. Walker and Mr. Moncheur, will you come up and testify? STATEMENTS OF ROMEO MONCHEUR AND MRS. NANCY WALKER,

DEER PARK, N. Y. Mr. MONCHEUR. Senator Lehman and Senator Ives, first of all I would like to say that it is on the spur of the moment that I am here. Two days ago I read in the Port Jervis Union Gazette that there would be such a meeting. After having talked for so long, so much, about my losses, the losses of my neighbors, I thought this is the time to come down and see if something can be done in the future, so that we will not have to sustain the same losses again.

I would like to emphasize, too, that I am not a lawyer. I am no political officeholder. I do not represent any pressure group. I am just a plain citizen, the lowest echelon of the American political hierarchy.

I have a small hotel in the hills. Last August 19 it rained and rained and rained, and by 12 o'clock at night I had to drain my pool for the first time by 6 inches. I didn't think anything of it in particular. But it continued to rain, and it was a warm rain. We never had had a rain like that before. By 3 o'clock in the morning, I had to drain the pool another 4 inches. By then I felt this is something surely unusual. I had never seen so much rain before. But nevertheless, I went to bed, until at 4:30 the civil defense chief of our town called me up to come in a hurry, that our kill down there, which flows into the Neversink, had risen to such an extent that houses never touched before were under water. People had 2 feet of water in their houses. So we went down and we saw how serious it was.

Ever since, the people of my community have been hoping that something could be done. The Red Cross, of course, came in. So did the Salvation Army and other charitable institutions. And they tried their best. It helped in the first few hours, but it did not replace the losses, the very serious losses, that many of our citizens had sustained. I for one lost the swimming installation of my establishment in the kill. The loss in itself is not too serious. It probably represents around $1,500. Of course I am not insured, but I will survive. But some of my neighbors and Mrs. Walker will talk about herself in a few minutes—have had very serious losses.

They tried everything that has been proposed. Among other things, they tried the Small Business Administration for loans. From what I know, I know two cases in my direct vicinity where loans have been tried, and to this day no answer has come.

Senator Ives. Is this the Small Business Administration?

« PreviousContinue »