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You will recall, gentlemen, that the act of March 22, 1942, provided specifically for property loss or damage which occurred after Pearl Harbor to the end of the war period, and the War Damage Corporation entered into agreements with some 546 established insurance companies to transact general war-risk insurance protection available to the public.
Under the program the companies were permitted to make a reasonable profit for their work in writing the insurance and handling claims and the like. It was not necessary for the Corporation to request or receive any direct appropriation from the Congress, and it was capitalized for something like a hundred million dollars, and its stock was held by the RFC.
You will recall that from December of 1941 to June of 1945 premium revenues aggregating something like $250 million were collected-more than adequate to enable the Corporation to meet its operating expenses and to pay approved claims for property loss and damage.
Actually, the only funds made available to the Corporation by RFC were $1 million for the acquisition of the initial issue of 1,000 shares of capital stock. The rest was in a revolving fund, and it was adequate to pay all of the charges made upon it, all of the claims that were settled. As you will recall, there was special legislation to pay the claims that arose out of the great Pearl Harbor attack, the infamous attack of December 7, 1941.
About $372,000 was expended in approved claims for losses which occurred before inauguration of the premium-insurance program.
This war-risk insurance was set up so that it could cover all the property in the United States, homes, residences, business properties, churches, public institutions, and the like, with the assistance and participation of the private companies but under the leadership and direction of the Government and also the guaranties of the Government.
Let me repeat that I regard such a program not only to be sound and feasible but to be decidedly necessary at this time. I hope and urge that the committee will consider my bill, H. R. 6129, in connection with its study of other pending proposals that you now have underway.
In the third place, I have made certain efforts looking toward expansion of the Weather Bureau to speed intensive study of weather problems and to inaugurate as early as possible more effective hurricane and storm warning systems. "I think there is a real need for increased and improved research on weather and weather service, and I am introducing appropriate legislation when Congress reconvenes. I would like very much to have your permission to include in the record the text of the preliminary draft of my weather bill.
Senator LEHMAN. There being no objection, it will be done. (The text of the proposed bill referred to follows:)
PRELIMINARY DRAFT The Philbin bill to create a Federal Disaster Research Commission to offer adequate protection for the Nation against hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other meteorological disasters through an accelerated program of research and development:
“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there is hereby created a Federal Disaster Research Commission, hereinafter referred to as the Commission, to be
composed of the Chief of the United States Weather Bureau, the Secretary of Defense, the Director of Defense Mobilization, the Administrator of Civil Defense, the Director of the Office of Scitntific Research and Development, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the President of the American Red Cross, the Chairman of the National Science Foundation, the President of the American Meteorological Society, to direct and supervise, under such regulations as it may adopt, a program of research to provide maximum possible protection for the nation against hurricanes, foods, tornadoes, and other meteorological and natural disasters.
"SEC. 2 (a) The Commission shall institute an immediate program of basic research involving the determination of all the physical attributes of hurricanes and tornadoes, their behavior, development of scientific theories and their proof, and the collection and use of data already obtained by various Federal agencies.
"(b) The Commission further shall institute a program of applied and development research to provide methods of forecasting, detection, and tracking of tornadoes and hurricanes.
"(c) The Commission shall study the development and utilization of an effective, early warning system to function in the case of hurricanes, tornadoes, or any type of situation with disastrous possibilities. The Commission shall further study the feasibility of integrating such warning systems into existing national and civilian defense warning networks to forecast approaching atomic air attack.
"Sec. 3. The said Commission shall have an Executive Director, who shall be selected by the Commission. The Executive Director of the Commission shall receive compensation at the rate of $20,000 per annum and shall be a recognized meteorological authority.
"SEC. 4. The Executive Director of the Commission is authorized to requisi. tion from existing Federal agencies, on behalf of the Commission, and to assign such professional and clerical staffs as may be deemed necessary and practicable.
"SEC. 5. For the implementation of this Act, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated the sum of not more than $5,000,000."
Mr. PHILBIN. Fourth, I also think that the Congress will definitely have to strengthen and expand our machinery for disaster relief and rehabilitation. It should be permanent. It should be more closely coordinated with the State and local community, bearing out the points that were so ably brought out by your distinguished colleague in the Senate, Senator Bush. It should be broader and more generous in its coverage, as Senator Kennedy has pointed out and as Governor Herter thoroughly and fully agrees.
I seriously question that relief of disasters of such great magnitude as we are dealing with now in this particular instance and which we will have to deal with from time to time undoubtedly and which may hit anywhere in the country can be satisfactorily handled by Government loans.
The Small Business Administration acting under its present mandate has done splendid work, and I should be the first wholeheartedly to commend this Government agency for the help that it has rendered to us and is still rendering to us. Ånd, of course, the Red Cross and all the other Government agencies participating, cooperating agencies, have done splendid work.
However, I believe that these relief and rehabilitation problems will have to be approached on a much broader front and that consideration must be promptly given to the equitable and humane aims of speedily putting or trying to put flood and disaster sufferers as nearly as we can into the status quo ante—the position they were in before the disaster struck them.
This is not possible in all cases, but the Government can do much more than it is doing under present techniques and present entitlements and present laws to effectuate that result.
It can be definitely said, I think, that many of these losses, individual and collective and human and material, are far beyond the resources of individuals or the State and local governments, in fact, to cope with adequately. A broader measure of assistance by the Federal Government is required, in my opinion.
Such a program will be costly and expensive. We can all take note of that. But so is the foreign relief; so are agricultural subsidies; so are the great public projects in other parts of the Nation. The stricken people of the eastern seaboard who have been so ravaged and so afAicted, so distressed by this terrible disaster, who pay such heavy taxes to the Federal Treasury, are also entitled I think to the generous help and assistance of the Federal Government in their time of terrible affliction.
In conclusion, gentlemen, I earnestly plead for your cooperation and assistance. We have been sorely stricken. Our own people have shown tremendous courage and resourcefulness in trying to reestablish their homes, their industries, and their communities. But our need is still very great. To ward off the effects of the disastrous floods and to set up adequate safeguards against possible future visitations and safeguards against these unpredictable disasters, which are in effect so unpredictable in their approach and point of attack and so paralyzing in their consequences we now need the sympathetic help and assistance of the Government.
There can be no question about that, gentlemen. If your illustrious committee, comprised as it is of great
leaders of the United States Senate, great leaders of the Nation, whom we all admire, able, esteemed and patriotic, working so diligently under the leadership of the very distinguished Senator from New York and with the valuable assistance of our distinguished friend from Connecticut whose State was very badly struck, one of the worst disaster areas in the entire section, if you gentlemen can help us in any way—and I know you are all anxious to do it—to realize the objectives in this field of relief, rehabilitation, and protection which we in Massachusetts feel must be so urgently and vigorously pursued, then we will, indeed, be very, very grateful to you.
Please let me thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Bush, Senator Kennedy, and all the members of your committee, for hearing me this morning and for giving your valuable time and, most of all, for your sincere and your sympathetic consideration of our serious flood problems.
I am sure that you will do everything that you can to assist us.
(Representative Philbin's prepared statement follows:) STATEMENT OF PHILIP J. PHILBIN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE
STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I greatly appreciate the privilege given me by the very distinguished gentleman from New York, Senator Lehman, and this committee, to present my views on proposed food-insurance and disasterinsurance legislation and also to outline as briefly as possible the need for other present and future Federal assistance for flood-ravaged areas.
I realize that your committee is vitally concerned with the vital problem of flood insurance. May I allude to the fact that immediately following the Worcester, Mass., tornado in 1953, I introduced H. R. 6129 which provided for disaster insurance to cover losses from floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, forest fires, hurricanes, and other great natural disturbances and other conditions affect. ing public safety and convenience. This measure is much broader than other proposals that have been submitted providing for flood insurance alone because it covers, as you well know, a much wider field.
It is my view that all necessary insurance should be provided, if this is possible at reasonable rates by the private companies, and, of course, I desire to urge legislation to this end. However, if for any reason, the private companies cannot or will not assume these great risks without guaranties or inducements by the Government, then my proposed measure provides that such guaranties shall be given, in order to provide by law adequte coverage for all losses caused by natural disasters.
At present, as you know, it is not possible to secure such insurance from any of the private companies, and I am informed that not even Lloyd's of London, famed for the bredth and flexibility of its risks, will write such insurance.
My bill is modeled, in part, after the War Damage Corporation program which, you will recall, insured the entire Nation during the World War II period. It contains insurance provisions which would allow and encourage the private companies, when deemed necessary, to reinsure their risks with the Government corporation established by the bill.
I think it is almost redundant to argue the need and propriety for some kind of legislation of this type. Natural disasters strike every part of the Nation. They are unpredictable in their advent and devastating in their consequences. This great Government should be organized along a broad front to cope with them with maximum speed and efficiency in order to minimize and relieve widespread human suffering and economic loss.
I should like most respectfully to present a four-point program which is applicable to floods and includes other great natural disasters for the consideration of your learned committee:
1. Immediate appropriation by Congress of adequate funds to proceed with engineering studies and construction of necessary flood-control projects already authorized, and wherever necessary, in the Connecticut, Thames, Blackstone, Housatonic, Hoosic, Neponset, Merrimac, Charles River Basins, and in all the tributaries and branches of these streams, including industrial and other small dams, which constitute so much of New England water resources and must be effectively controled. Flood control is our great and urgent need.
2. Machinery and funds for national disaster insurance, preferably utilizing regular insurance companies, which would cover damage from floods, tornadoes. droughts, forest fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural catastropbes of such severity as to require the President to declare emergency disaster areas in any part of the Nation. Private insurance companies could reinsure these risks on a basis limited only by needs with Government backing under this plan. An adequate revolving fund replenishable, if necessary, by appropriations, would be set up.
3. A long-range program of weather and climatic research, coordinated with Weather Bureau activities and adequately financed by the Federal Government, to furnish a broader, integrated basis for the gathering and dissemination of meteorological information and the forecasting of weather and climatic conditions to be coordinated with civil defense and the armed services, to warn the civilian population of approaching storms and possibly of impending military attacks.
4. Consider permanent machinery for relief and rehabilitation following great natural disasters, embracing direct grants as well as loans by the Federal Gov. ernment, including permanent, not just temporary, repair of public facilities.
This able committee and its distinguished chairman, who is so rich in experience and forward-looking in approach, is admirably constituted to prepare, foster, and bring to early enactment legislation necessary to insure America against huge paralyzing economic losses resulting from disaster and I urge your early action.
The people of New England will thank you for your good work and in time the entire Nation will come to appreciate your solicitious provision for our citizens in distress wherever they may reside.
Mr. PHILBIN. I have with me, as you know, our beloved Congresswoman Rogers, and she would like to have the privilege now of saying a few words with your permisison.
Senator LEHMAN. We will be delighted to hear both from Congresswoman Rogers and from Congressman Macdonald. Before we do that, I want to thank you for being here, Congressman Philbin, and
congratulate you on the very clear and, in my opinion, informative and convincing document which you read. I am particularly glad that you emphasized the importance of disaster insurance on a broad scale, including manmade disasters. I think it is a matter that should call for the very, very careful thought, not only of this committee but the people as a whole.
I think it was particularly valuable that you emphasized what happened in the Second World War to the administration of war-risk insurance and how it was possible to get the insurance companies to work with the Government and to give a feeling of confidence and protection to a great many people in this country.
I want to point out one other thing if I may. I think this is of greatest importance to Members of Congress and to the public generally. That is, I think we must convince people that what happens in Massachusetts and Connecticut and Pennsylvania and New York is not only the concern of the people who live within those States but is the very great concern of the people in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota. This can't be done on a sectional basis. It must be done on a national basis in my opinion.
Mr. PHILBIN. I am in complete agreement with you.
Senator LEHMAN. I think we make it clear to people that we have passed the parochial stage of just one little section looking at its own interests; that we must approach all these things from a national basis
a and understand that what helps and protects New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut also helps and protects the other States of the Union.
I want to thank you very much, indeed.
Mr. Phillin. Thank you very much, gentlemen.
Senator LEHMAN. We will be delighted to hear from you, Mrs. Rogers.
Mrs. ROGERS. I will be very brief, Senator Lehman. I do not want to take up your most valuable time here. You have many witnesses who want to be heard, and I am in Washington a great deal and perhaps you will let me talk to you individually there.
I am very grateful to you for coming, Senator Lehman, and I remember my deep pleasure in working with you on legislation that you and I and others were mutually interested in. I remember you kept from the burning a bill and secured passage of it in the Senate over a Presidential veto. I will never forget that and other things you have done.
I am so glad to see you, Senator Bush, and I would like to extend my deep sympathy to you and the other people in Connecticut for your terrible losses there.
I have been extremely anxious because we did not have a special session of Congress. I feel that the delay has been most unfortunate. I think that the country was so aroused at the worst hurricane and flood that the world has ever known that I think a special session of Congress would have brought about legislation.
I am delighted you feel it is not a local matter or a sectional matter, because we in New England have very few votes, as Senator Bush