Page images
PDF
EPUB

Senator LEIMAN. While I, of course, appreciate the difficulties inherent in this situation, and know this is a very complex project, I am greatly disappointed in the failure of the administration to present specific legislative recommendations at this time. I say that particularly in the light of the Presidents public assurances on October 18 in Denver, that specific legislative suggestions would be made at these hearings.

I want to refer to, and have this in the record, an article that appeared in the New York Times on Wednesday, October 19. I shall not read the whole article, but this was in connection with a communication that was addressed to the President by the governors of the New England States:

From his bedside in Fitzsimons Army Hospital, the President stated and proposed yesterday in a letter to Governor Roberts, of Rhode Island, chairman of the New England Governors Conference The letter was released today. (See p. 586.) It was in reply to 70 proposals for Federal flood-relief assistance made to the White House by the New England governors. The governors had recommended that the Secretary of Commerce support Federal-disaster insurance to cover losses in such events as the floods that struck the area late last August. The President wrote that the matter had been taken under close scrutiny some weeks ago, a number of Federal agencies were examining the proposal under the direction of the Bureau of the Budget, and the Housing and Home Financing Agency, and the Senate Banking and Currency Committee would hold hearings on it later this month. The administration, he wrote, would present specific legislative suggestions at this time.

I certainly do not wish in any way to criticize the President for whose early and complete recovery we all pray. But this matter, as I understand it, has been turned over to the Bureau of the Budget, which is in consultation with other agencies, notably the Housing and Home Finance Administration. This committee is holding hearings today and tomorrow in Washington. It is holding hearings on Thursday and Friday in New York City and in upstate New York. It then goes to Boston, Providence, Hartford, and probably to other parts of the country where floods have struck, too. It is a very difficult thing for this committee to formulate views on this subject until we get the recommendations of the administration. They were promised by the President, I know, in perfectly good faith. I do think that the Budget Bureau should apprise us of those suggestions without loss of time.

Mr. Jones. That will be done, Senator Lehman.

As I tried to indicate when I testified, I think we are making progress and very rapid progress, but the 6 criteria and 2 basic assumptions are as far as we have been able to get.

Senator LEHMAN. I hope those recommendations will be forthcoming very quickly. The flood happened nearly 3 months ago. There has been, of course, since then another flood, not quite as bad, not quite as devastating, I understand. We are continuing these hearings. We have to formulate the views of this committee, and we can only do that intelligently if we have the recommendations of the administration.

Mr. Jones, That we understand, sir.
Senator LEHMAN. I hope we have made that very clear.
Mr. Jones. Yes, sir.
That is all, sir?
Senator LEHMAN. That is all. Thank you very much.

Do we have a representative of the Federal Civil Defense Administration?

STATEMENT OF HAROLD L. AITKEN, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL CIVIL DEFENSE ADMINISTRATION

Mr. AITKEN. Mr. Chairman, gentlemen, my name is Harold L. Aitken.

Senator LEHMAN. Do you have a prepared statement?

Mr. AITKEN. Yes, sir; I have a prepared statement, and I hope to make comments.

Senator LEHMAN. I wonder if you have copies?

Mr. AITKEN. I do not have copies for distribution at this time. I have already furnished one copy to your staff and will furnish copies later.

Senator LEHMAN. I was anxious to let the press have a copy.

Mr. AITKEN. I will be glad to give you two copies, sir, as soon as I finish here.

I am Executive Assistant Administrator of the Federal Civil Defense Administration.

An outline of the Federal disaster assistance available to States, local governments, and individuals under existing legislation and pursuant to Public Law 875, 81st Congress and Executive Order 10427 should be of value to this committee. Such Federal assistance is not confined to this authority. The enactment clause of Public Law 875 provides as follows:

To provide an orderly and continuing means of assistance by the Federal Government to the State and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to alleviate suffering and damage resulting from major disasters, to repair essential public facilities in major disasters, and to foster the develop ment of such State and local organizations and plans to cope with major disasters as may be necessary.

Section 3 of that act is perhaps the most important. It contains the basic authority whereby all agencies and departments of the Federal Government, when directed by the President—that authority has now been delegated to the Federal Civil Defense Administrator under Executive Order 10427-may provide assistance to State and local governments. Any Federal agency, when so directed, may provide assistance by

1. Utilizing or lending, with or without compensation therefor, to the States and local governments, their equipment, supplies, facilities. personnel, and other resources, other than the extension of credit under the authority of any act.

2. Distributing through the American Red Cross or otherwise, medicine, foods, and other consumable items. This includes farm commodities or products owned or controlled by the Commodity Credit Corporation under the authority of Public Law 480, 838 Congress.

3. Donating or lending equipment and supplies, determined under then existing law to be surplus to the needs and responsibilities of the Federal Government to the States for use or disposition by them for the purpose of the act including the restoration of public buildings damaged or destroyed in such major disaster and rehabilitation of individuals in need as the result of such major disaster. This is an amendment by Public Law 134, 83d Congress.

I direct your attention here to the fact that these things are made available for the purposes identified in the act and these are restricted by the following paragraph:

4. Performing on public or private lands protective and other work essential for the preservation of life and property, making emergency repairs to and temporary replacement of public facilities of local governments damaged or destroyed in such disasters, by providing temporary housing or other emergency shelter, or making contributions to the States and local governments for these purposes. This provision, relating to temporary housing, was added by Public Law 107 of the 82d Congress.

The Federal disaster assistance program is administered largely through the States. The act provides that any Federal agency is authorized to accept and utilize, with the consent of any State or local government, the services and facilities of such State or local governments or any of their agents or employees in carrying out the purpose of the act.

Now can you imagine the individual who has been forced to vacate his house as the result of a disaster! Here are examples of the kind of assistance he may expect to obtain

1. Housing or temporary shelter.

2. Foodstuffs, medicine, and other consumable supplies; in other Fords, blankets and bedding, so forth, which may be distributed through the Red Cross or the States.

Senator LEHMAN. Red Cross or to what? Mr. AITKEN. Through the Red Cross or the States. 3. Surplus personal property donated for rehabilitation through the States, including the negotiated sale of surplus property for the rehabilitation of disaster-stricken small-business concerns or individuals.

4. Debris and wreckage removal from the premises if it constitutes a public health hazard, and if protective or other work essential for the preservation of life or property is required, through Federal contributions to the States. Certain disaster-loan authorities are vested in the Housing and Home Finance Agency and the Farmers' Home Administration, for assistance through loans on liberal credit, independent of Public Law 875.

For a farmer within the major disaster area, feed and seed loans are available under Public Law 115, 83d Congress, and emergency loans may be made to farmers and stockmen under Public Law 38, 81st Congress.

Executive Order 10427, dated January 16, 1953, placed the responsiLility for the administration, direction, and coordination of disasterrelief activities of the Federal Government in the Federal Civil De. fense Administration.

The following table shows the amount available at the time the Federal Civil Defense Administration was made responsible for administering this program, the subsequent additions through appropriations and recapture of unexpended funds from other agencies and the allo

cations made during the period of administration of the fund by the Federal Civil Defense Administration.

(The table referred to follows:)

Analysis of disaster-relief appropriation by fiscal year as of Oct. 25, 1955

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

July 5, 1955.
July 12, 1955
Aug. 16, 1955
Sept. 1, 1955.
Aug. 29, 1955.
Sept. 7, 1955.

Do..

Do.
Sept. 9, 1955..
Sept. 1, 1955.
Sept. 9, 1955.

Nevada
SBA.
Kansas
Colorado
North Carolina
Rhode Island.
Pennsylvania
New Jersey
Massachusetts
New Mexico.
Connecticut.
New York
Department of Agriculture..

Flash flood
Hurricane
Same as June 20, 1955
Same as June 3, 1955
Hurricine
Hurricane flood
..do.

do..

do.
Flood
Hurricane-flood

do

204, 000.00

34,030, 45 204,000.00

74, 140.00 1,020,000.00 1,0-20,000.00 1.020.000.00 1.020,000.00 1.020,000.00

76. 500.00 1.020,000.00

Do..
Oct. 26, 19.55.

510.000.00
500,000.00

7, 722, 670.00 .22, 593, 307.00

Total allocated.

Balance

5, 401, 234.00

NOTE.-All figures indicated within parentheses denote credits to the fund.

a

Mr. AITKEN. Speaking in summary terms, at the time the responsibility was transferred to us, a total of $20,105,296 was in the fund. Since then, the Congress has appropriated $3,500,000. There was returned to the fund by the Housing and Home Finance Agency $4,389,295; so that there has been a total in this fund of $27,994,591.

In fiscal year 1953, the President declared seven disasters as major disasters, and funds were allocated under this act in the amount of $1,614,500. Those disasters included tornadoes and floods.

In fiscal year 1954 there were also seven disasters. There is some overlap here because there were some supplementary allocations. For disasters including floods, forest fires, severe hardship, and tornadoes, funds were allocated during the year in the amount of $1,376,629.

In fiscal year 1955 there were 20 disasters and funds were allocated in the amount of $11,879,508.

Thus far in the fiscal year 1956, funds in the amount of $7,722,670 have been allocated for 12 disasters, including additional funds for 1955 disasters. So since we have had this responsibility, a total of $22,593,307 has been allocated to assist the States and local governments in financing their disaster requirements under the limitations of Public Law 875.

Senator LEHMAN. May I interrupt? Have you any record of the actual losses suffered by people as a result of these various catastrophes!

Mr. AITKEN. Well, sir, I have not for the past disasters, but in a minute I would like to comment on this aspect of the recent disasters in New England and the floods in North and South Carolina.

Federal Civil Defense has authority when the President declares major disasters, and only when he declares a major disaster, to direct any agency to go beyond statutory responsibility and to reimburse it from the Federal disaster fund.

In view of the magnitude of the damage in August and October and the inadequacy of the disaster fund, the various agencies were authorized by the President to spend their own available funds under Federal Civil Defense Administration direction and to adjust their accounts later.

This plan was discussed with the members of the various appropriations committees in the Congress.

Now, Mr. Chairman, with reference to estimates of damage, I listened carefully to General Sturgis and tried to detect a difference. As I understand it, the general was talking about both direct and indirect costs. I had a copy of the release to which he referred some minutes ago, and that figure is generally in keeping with the estimates that we thus far have available; and in this case, and with respect to

Senator LEHMAN. To which figure are you referring, the $1.6 billion or $158 million?

Jr. UITKEN. Mr. Chairman, I am referring to the $458 million figure that was released by the Department of Commerce on October 31.

For example, we have included in our estimates the figures supplied generally by local and State sources, including the damage in North and South Carolina, and our figure as of now, which I grant you is a preliminary one because of the time, is about $590 million. But

« PreviousContinue »