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I might say that this is not new to us. I recall that in the midthirties when Congressman-at-Large Bill Citron, from Middletown, from your home State, Senator Bush, introduced bills for the Connecticut Valley Authority. Since then we have had surveys and surveys, and I believe in the archives of Congress we must have volumes upon volumes of what should be done.
However, in New England it has been said that we have a sort of an individual pride as a region; that we don't care for interlopers or outside interference; that we can well meet our problems locally—that is, local and State.' It all stems from Yankee ingenuity. I might say to you that we feel that our Yankee ingenuity has run out. We need not be too bashful, and we should put our pride in our pockets because there is human suffering.
As a matter of fact, not too long ago in your State of Connecticut, Senator Bush, there were picket lines of small-business men and small manufacturers saying, "We've had enough."
I might also add that we have company. Usually floods emanating from hurricanes or from other natural disasters only seem to hit the people who live near the rivers, and it happens to be mostly the members of our union. Well, we have them in the high and mighty places today. You take here even in Boston and in our suburban communities, Newton and Brookline and Dover, where the best families of Massachusetts live; the byword is in councils among neighbors and in discussions, “Have you had water of late ?"
And so it knows no boundaries. It seems that the water tributaries have taken strange courses. It seems that we are all affected—yes, even part of our Boston area, the lifeline of our commerce along the Charles. Comes a flood or a heavy rainstorm and men cannot get to their offices to work, and we have to reroute our streets, which are · narrow, as you might know, in Boston, and everything is tied up for hours, which means loss in time, effort, money, and then, also, frustration.
So we believe that something should be done.
We find also that the Corps of Engineers have stated that dams could have been placed in certain areas but they are not fast coming, and of late we have noticed that there is a little buck-passing between the community and the Engineer Corps stating that they cannot get permission, and henceforth the rivers go on their merry way.
So we think that the damage has been extensive, as we have found out, and the figures are enormous. If we were to take the figures quoted by the Chief of the Army Engineers, Lt. Gen. Samuel Sturgis, who sticks to his billion-and-a-half-dollar figure, this is really a tremendous amount.
We are not a new part of the country. We are an old part. We have old buildings, and they just can't stand these floods. Yes; it can be said that we can look for new plateaus or higher plains, but, unfortunately, it can't be done, because we are a heavily congested area, and we canot move our factories.
Some say also that we can build stronger foundations. Well, from what we have seen, the way the waters flow on a rampage, I don't know what type of a foundation would hold back the waters unless we harness them.
So, as spokesman for some half-million wage earners in these New England States, we believe that the recommendations of the New Eng.
land governors do not go far enough, and we believe that we must proceed on a program of an effective approach to this situation.
I am going to present the committee with the testimony that we gave to the House Government Operations Committee in Springfield on October 24, where we covered this flood program quite well.
It is high time that in New England we stop pussyfooting with this dreadful and constantly reoccurring problem of overflowing of our rivers and high tides. We can assure you that the working people are at long last showing signs of assuming real responsibility for public education and political activities designed to correct the disgraceful errors and omissions of the past 20 years.
When we ask why things are not done to protect ourselves, we are told the people don't want it. When you narrow it down, who are the people? We find that when it comes to harnessing the rivers or if we talk power we know that it's the Power Trust in New England who seems to be the “people.” However, it's all tied in it with our electric rates, and it's tied in with many other factors which have had a bearing on the flight of our industry out of New England, particularly the textile industry.
The New England economy is hard hit by floods and high winds. It needs the stimulation which cheaper power and large-scale public works can afford. We reject the proposition that if we mention the issue of public power we will get no flood control. It is our judgment that unless and until we fight for both needed lower cost power and flood control we will get neither.
I am convinced that the A. F. of L. unions in New England will join CIO in pressing this problem as quickly as our immediate merger problems are resolved this December 5.
We welcome your visit to New England and assure you once more of our great admiration and regard for you personally and your colleagues. We pledge to you our energetic and persistent efforts to win over our entire congresional delegation from New England to the support of the program that we outlined here today.
Senator LEHMAN. Thank you very much. I was very much interested in your whole statement, but I am glad that you followed my very brief remarks about the relationship of flood control and development of public power, and I think it has been the fear of development of public power, I repeat, that has been one of the handicaps under which New England has suffered.
I wonder whether you know—you probably do—something which I have spoken of many, many, many times: That today in New England and in New York the rate for power is just twice as high as the rate for power in certain other areas of this country, notably the Tennessee Valley, the Pacific coast, both in California and in the Northern States, Washington and Oregon. It is just twice as high in this New England-New York area as out there.
The interesting part is, one that I think is not fully understood, that the rate is twice as high here but the consumption in the other areas that I have mentioned—the Tennesee Valley area, the Pacific coastthe per capita consumption is virtually twice as great as in New England and in New York, so that there is this direct relationship between the cost of power and the consumption of power. As a result of the increased consumption of power in the low-cost power areas the profits
that have been made by the private utility companies have been greater than ever before.
I think it is an interesting commentary.
Mr. BELANGER. I should like to say that the Federal Power Commission report for 1954 shows that our average homes here in New England for a 250-kilowatt-hour-a-month use of electricity pay from $7.63 to $7.85 per month as compared to the TVA and Bonneville areas of $4.92, Tennessee of $5.53 and Washington $4.63. This shows the difference. Also the average for large communities in New England of consumption of power has been 1,741 kilowatt-hours as compared to these lower rated communities of 2,625 kilowatt-hours.
Senator LEHMAN. I was conservative in my figures.
Mr. BELANGER. I might also add it has had a direct bearing on the electrical appliance industry which has grown by leaps and bounds in this territory, because we seem to have less of those appliances than where we're getting lower cost power. In other words, consumption of more electricity and more of the utilities.
Senator LEHMAN. Senator Bush.
Senator Bush. That is a very interesting statement-I mean your prepared statement, Mr. Belanger. I think it is a very interesting and a very helpful one.
I caught one thing that you said that I would like to ask you to amplify. You said you thought the cost of flood insurance could be paid-that the premiums might be paid—by tax deduction. Would you mind explaining that a little more fully?
Mr. BELANGER. That is more than a $64 question.
Mr. BELANGER. I would say that there would be various means. It could be in the form of a local tax, State tax to the Federal Government-I mean as the collectors—or directly by Government in the form of withholding. Certainly it would have to be worked out. The reason why
Senator Bush. Maybe I can make my question a little clearer, because I thought you had a very interesting thought there. I thought you meant something like this: That if an individual is going to subscribe to flood insurance that instead of paying for it on top of his taxpayments that he could deduct the premium from his taxpayment to the Government.
Let's say, for instance, a man's annual taxpayment is $60 and that he is going to carry flood insurance and that it is going to cost him $50 a year to carry it. Maybe that is high, but let's just say that. Therefore, it would reduce his taxpayment to the Government to $10. Do you follow me?
Mr. BELANGER. Yes; I follow you.
Mr. BELANGER. That is what we would like. But I also might add that we are mindful that insurance of this magnitude, of this comprehension depending on the disaster itself—because I have had erperience and saw the tornadoes at Worcester and all of these floods, and believe me, I can understand the potentiality of cost-the cost of it is beyond reach insofar as water is concerned.
We had a hassle here in our last rainstorm because I know neighbors around where I live had a little water, and they were saying, “Well, we're covered.” So someone said, “Well, look at your policy: Then the newspapers came out and said the policies covering winds and hurricanes would not apply to this type of disaster, which was rains and rains and more water and floods.
We are told that the only people attracted to this type of insurance might be those along the waters, that they might even try to struggle to pay because we are getting repeated doses here regularly now and may even try to buy that type of insurance. But the reason why it is high, the coverage is not sufficient enough to go around-I mean in places where they believe they are not affected by floods.
So we think that it is becoming a public concern. For instance, a tornado doesn't choose the rivers. They will hit a spot like they did in central Massachusetts. Also if you have drought or if you have other disasters of any magnitude in the country, I think that it's one's responsibility to another rather than continuously trying to pass the hat and raise the money the way we did in the Worcester area.
There was a big statement made that the President would send in $500,000, but it hasn't been received yet.
I mean we try to probe and say, "Where is this money coming from?” So we found out that the Army engineers do a certain type of cleanup work and try to rearrange the conditions that prevailed prior to the disaster, and that's what the Government means. Well, it's not enough to take care of the little people.
We have worked with the Red Cross diligently, and they have done a good job. We have no complaint. But it's slow, and it's always seeming to beg the issue. I think that we owe more to our citizens than continuously trying to meet our problems that way. I believe sincerely that all citizens would want to contribute in one form or another, whether it is by deduction from the tax if the Government can stand the bill or even pay a little more if need be to protect themselves.
Senator LEHMAN. Further questions?
Mr. BELANGER. I would like Mr. Coleman, who was on the scene, to speak. And these are people who have had their homes washed away, Senator, and I think it's interesting.
Mr. COLEMAN. Well, Senators, I have been on the scene since, well, 4 days after this happened, and I have been with the Red Cross acting as liaison man between them and our union people. My job was to interpret the Red Cross program to these people so that they would understand it and to all our union members so they would understand it and carry the message to them.
I had an opportunity or many opportunities I should say to be with the caseworkers when they visited these people and sat down with them and went through all of their private business.
As you know, these cases are very extensive. They have to go into a lot of digging and history of the family, because it is the public's money. Very few people understand that. They're not spending their money. They are spending the public's money, and they have to answer to the public.
So a good many of our people misunderstood the delays that were incurred there.
As Senator Bush mentioned in Connecticut some of the awards that were made there, we can compare them very easily with those in Massachusetts. In the town of Charlton we had one there of $15,000, which represented a 4-room house completely furnished and clothing and all the rest that goes with it. That was for a man 69 years old.
You see, there was no mention there of longevity or anything. The man was a homeowner. The home was destroyed. He was to be given a home that was in comparison with his need.
That is one of the factors that was a little tough to get over to our people—this problem of need. We couldn't give them television sets and those nice easy chairs that we spend so much time making money to buy. So they just had to get along with just the essentials.
In going along on this problem of presenting this to you today, we thought that we would present two typical cases to you. One is a very extreme one, which is a complete wipeout-everything. That means the very soil. There is nothing left but rubble and rock there. You couldn't put a foundation there if you wanted to. The second one is what we might call an average case of a high-water deal where it would be, oh, the first floor and furniture and complete renovation of the rooms on the first floor and possibly foundations.
The first case we have is of a man here, Mr. Lincoln, who lost his home completely, and if you would like to question him, fine, or he can tell you anything he wants. Senator LEHMAN. Will you tell us about your experiences!
? Mr. LINCOLN. My name is Luther Lincoln. I lived in Charlton on the Katy Brook, and I lost my home and everything. Of course, I got aid from the Red Cross which helped me out a lot. Senator LEHMAN. Will you talk a litle louder, please?
a Mr. LINCOLN. But without the aid from some of those associations, something like that, I don't know what I would have done. I had a mortgage on the place around $5,000, and in order to pay that off and pay rent, try to build a new home-I couldn't do it; that's all. I don't know what I would have done.
About the only thing I could do was go into bankruptcy, wouldn't have that old mortgage on. That's all I could see. But still now with the aid of the Red Cross and everything I'm put back about 10 years in owning my home. My home should have been paid for in about 6 or 7 years more. Now I've got to go around 16 or 20 years.
Senator Bush. Did you have to make a new loan?
Mr. Lincoln. Loan; yes. Well, that old loan is taken care of so far. The bank took half the loss and the Red Cross has paid the other half.
Senator LEHMAN. Will you have to borrow money for the new home?