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It could have been much worse.
It could have closed the place
down completely, could have destroyed it completely.
Mr. POLICASTRO. That's about it.
Senator LEHMAN. Thank you very much.
The next witness is Edwin C. Brown, secretary-treasurer, Rhode Island Federation of Labor.
STATEMENT OF EDWIN C. BROWN, SECRETARY-TREASURER, RHODE ISLAND FEDERATION OF LABOR
Mr. BROWN. Mine will be the shortest testimony of the day. Edwin C. Brown, secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island State Federation of Labor.
The Rhode Island Federation of Labor is very much concerned over the recurring devastation to our economy caused by high water. We are not of the opinion that every time we are confronted with a problem we must turn to the Federal Government for the solution. However, in this present situation we feel that Federal intervention is imperative. Periodically, our State is being visited by ruinous water damage caused by abnormal storms. We have no specific solution to the problem. We feel we are not qualified to offer the solution. We look to our Federal Government and qualified experts on such matters to present the solution.
We are concerned about the havoc it has caused. From the north several rivers and streams pour a heavy accumulation of water into our State. This water is accumulated over a multi-State area. caused either by melting snow or abnormal rainfall.
From the south, the mouth of our Narraganset Bay serves as a perfect funnel to carry the angry wind-swept seas right up through the middle of our State. Both sides of the bay are inundated and the churning water is emptied into our concentrated business district of Providence. Steps must be taken to retard the flow of Atlantic sea water that has flooded this area.
These flooding conditions have washed away hundreds of millions of dollars worth of homes, businesses, and jobs. Unharnessed New England waters and the Atlantic Ocean have killed scores of people and created conditions that are not conducive to good health.
Because of the many States involved in correcting this condition we must turn to our Federal Government for assistance. The fastmoving streams to our north must be harnessed. Other areas of this Nation have been greatly improved through Federal intervention. The Mississippi and Ohio are examples. TVA and the many dams in the West are testimonials of what our Government can do to help the people if it so desires.
It is quite possible that many of our illnesses could be attributed to our polluted streams. At the risk of being accused of creeping socialism I believe that a Northeast Authority should be established to harness our rivers, eradicate germ-breeding areas and generate lower-cost power by erecting a series of dams and reservoirs and also issue insurance to cover disaster.
We need help, and only the Federal Government is in a position to render it. We need to retard the flow of water and also provide disaster insurance to cover possible loss of business property, homes,
crops and possible aid to cover loss of jobs. We need a little "creeping progress" in New England.
Senator LEHMAN. Let me ask you, Were many of your men thrown out of employment?
Mr. BROWN. Fortunately for the members of the American Federation of Labor there were not too many in this concentrated area in Woonsocket. There were some. There is an independent union in Woonsocket that did have several members of their union who were adversely affected. But in the hurricanes of the previous years, several of our members lost their complete homes, their entire belongings and like that.
In Providence here some of our unions were affected. While we didn't have too many of our people directly affected in a devastating way, members of other unions were. I am thinking now of the teachers union in Providence. They adopted a family from Woonsocket that had been completely wiped out and were very instrumental in rehabilitating that particular family.
Those were the things that they had to turn to. But fortunately, as I say, the American Federation of Labor members in this area were spared.
Senator LEHMAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. John F. Kirby.
STATEMENT OF JOHN F. KIRBY, PRESIDENT, RHODE ISLAND ASSOCIATION OF INSURANCE AGENTS
Mr. KIRBY. Senator Lehman and members of his committee, Governor Roberts, in my capacity as president of the Rhode Island Association of Insurance Agents I wish to offer the facilities of the 319 member agencies of this association if a program of flood insurance is adopted by the Government.
Our agency forces and their facilities are available as a distributing agent for whatever program may be adopted.
We are heartily in accord with any movement that will tend to offer this type of insurance coverage, and we offer our assistance in whatever capacity this committee may desire in its deliberations.
Senator LEHMAN. Thank you very much. I want to thank you for your offer. We deeply appreciate it, and we will certainly not hesitate to call on you.
Conversely, if you have any suggestions to make which will simplify our task and bring us greater wisdom than we have at this moment, we would be glad to have it.
Mr. KIRBY. Thank you very much, Senator.
Senator LEHMAN. We have no further recorded witnesses, but I would be glad to hear anybody.
Mr. Ladd, I am sorry. I overlooked your name. We will be delighted to hear from you.
Mr. LADD. Senator Lehman, I was a little bit afraid I had been lost in the shuffle.
Senator LEHMAN. I think you weren't here
Mr. LADD. I was here right along, but that's all right.
Senator LEHMAN. I want to express my regret.
Mr. LADD. I am very glad to be included.
STATEMENT OF PAUL R. LADD, GENERAL MANAGER, GREATER PROVIDENCE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Mr. LADD. I am Paul R. Ladd, general manager of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.
Senator Lehman, I want to say the city of Providence and the State of Rhode Island have been visited already by disastrous floods, both riverborne and seaborne. It would be repetitious here to recite the extent of damage and the suffering due to loss of life and property. Suffice it, therefore, to record that the past experience and the future threats require both flood-control and flood-insurance facilities for the future protection of our citizens and our businessmen.
The executive committee of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce at a meeting held yesterday instructed me to speak for that organization of 1,800 members and in so doing to state that we are in thorough accord with the general proposal of establishing a Federal disaster insurance plan which includes flood insurance.
The Providence chamber strongly supports the principle of such insurance. We do not, however, have a specific plan. This is a complex problem, and in this regard we are putting to work a study committee which will look into the various plans which may be proposed.
The executive committee instructed me further to report that they urge the maximum use possible of private insurance companies which have the know-how, the ability, and the enterprise to furnish valuable service of this kind.
We feel that the Government must underwrite or subsidize disaster insurance in some way, but we also feel that private insurance companies should be used in the plan which is devised to the greatest extent possible.
I would like to say in supplement to this, Senator Lehman, and in conclusion, that the Providence chamber might have had more to say about flood control and prevention but they understood this was a disaster insurance hearing. But they will be very gratified to know that so many witnesses have emphasized the point of flood control.
They will be gratified also to know that you have accepted the relevancy of that phase of this whole problem. For example, anything that we can do to get appropriations and control floods and pervent these disasters is also going to lessen the loss of life which can't be restored.
No. 2, it is going to reduce by the extent to which there is prevention the insurance premiums or the rates which are required, and that, according to General Fleming's testimony, is going to be very substantial.
No. 3, the Federal Government will get a byproduct benefit in the form of increased income taxes, because I read a report recently of one of the national industrial concerns which has several plants in Rhode Island, an they in this last flood suffered something over an $11 million loss in this eastern seaboard, and they took a tax reduction, an estimated tax reduction, which was recorded in their report, of something between $5 million and $6 million. So there again is a very strong argument for the Federal Government stepping in and helping us out for flood control.
We also had an illustration of what the threat of flood means. Not long ago we had a very large and important firm here that had grown like Topsy, and they wanted to expand, and we were told that there was a site here in Rhode Island that they would have used which then was the only one available to them. It did happen to be on lowland. They turned it down in favor of going out of the State. That represented a very real loss in payroll and taxes to the city and to the State of Rhode Island.
So the threat of these hurricanes can be a very real damage as well as the hurricane itself.
The Providence Chamber of Commerce has declare that it will hang onto this problem of adequate flood control until it is completely solved for this area.
Senator LEHMAN. Thank you very much indeed. Will you just wait one moment? I want to assure you that all those members of the committee with whom I have spoken wish to have the fullest cooperation of the insurance companies and to work with them closely.
I can also assure you that all the members of the committee and other Members of the Congress with whom I have spoken would be in my opinion very adverse to reducing our flood control efforts and appropriations. Quite the opposite. Many of us favor very substantially increased appropriations because we realize the importance of that work both for the saving of lives and for the saving of property and the conserving of the economy of an area.
You have no plan to submit, you told us. This is a very complex problem. We welcome suggestions. If within the next few weeks you evolve through your committee or otherwise any plan, we would be very grateful to you if you would let us have it. We will study it. We want the best advice on this subject that we can get, as we realize the complexity and the difficulties of the plan.
I want to ask the mayor of Providence one more question if I may. Many witnesses have testified that the cost of this insurance and the frequency of floods, flood disasters, would be reduced if there were stricter zoning laws. Obviously you cannot rapidly move your factories and your homes in a large community away from the areas which are in jeopardy. But it has been testified that much could be done in the way of preventing the erection of new homes, new factories in these threatened areas. Is anything being done along these lines?
Mayor REYNOLDS. We have a new redevelopment project in the West River Park which is not in the lowland, but I think the cost would be prohibitive to move the factories that are along the waterfront right now.
Senator LEHMAN. I realize that, but is there
Mayor REYNOLDS. We are opening up new industrial sites that are not in the flooded area.
Senator LEHMAN. Governor, is there much in your opinion being done in other areas of the State to bring about intelligent zoning of new construction? I am not talking now of rezoning of old construction.
Governor ROBERTS. Many of the communities centered along the bay and down on the ocean front are drafting zoning ordinances which put restrictions upon the building of certain types of construction in areas—I think the first zone is 10 feet above sea level, then 20
feet above. There is intensive zoning in South Kingston. Westerly Rhode Island is going into an intensive zoning program, and they are trying by zoning to keep construction out of the vulnerable areas. So if we get floods we will not lose lives and so forth. There is quite a bit of activity, if that is the activity you are referring to.
Senator LEHMAN. That is exactly the activity, and in my judgment much can be done along those lines. I am not referring now to the removal of existing factories along large areas.
Governor ROBERTS. Providence has a very difficult situation. The great percentage of its valuation, the high tax district, is in the vulnerable area where you get the hurricane tidal floods where we were this noontime. There were 15 feet of water in there in 1938.
I would like to place in the record two teletypes from the Weather Bureau concerning a new storm moving toward New England. Senator LEHMAN. Without objection, they will be included in the record.
(The teletypes referred to follow :)
171 State to general G-44
From United States Weather Bureau, Hillsgrove
November 10, 1955.
Ver bulletin issued by United States Weather Bureau at Hartford, Conn., November 10, 1955
An intensifying and rapidly moving storm centered off the coast of North Carolina this afternoon is expected to move northward through New England Friday with rain beginning tonight possibly moderate to heavy at times before ending Friday afternoon. With the streams high from recent storms and the ground still soaked there is a threat of flooding during tonight and Friday throughout southern New England and on the tributaries to the Connecticut River in Vermont and New Hampshire. Since the storm is still 500 miles away a definite statement as to the intensity of anticipated flooding is not possible. But people should listen for later advisories which will be issued frequently tonight and Friday by the Hartford-Springfield Weather Bureau at Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Conn.
169 State to general G-43. From US Wet
November 10, 1955.
From United States Weather Bureau, Hillsgrove. Weather Bureau, Washington National Airport, 3:30 p. m., November 10, 1955. A disturbance which developed in the Gulf of Mexico is now centered over eastern South Carolina and is expected to move northeastward along the coast 30 to 35 miles per hour bringing moderate to heavy rains tonight and Friday from the Middle Atlantic States northward into New England. Rains have now spread nothward to Maryland and Delaware and are expected to reach the southern New England coast before midnight. Due to the soaked condition of the ground there is a potential flood danger for some northern sections threatened by heavy rains particularly those sections of southeastern New York and portions of New England where streams are still running high due to the heavy October rains. It is still too early to give definite forecasts as to amounts of danger from flooding and therefore all concerned should be on the alert for later bulletins issued by weather bureau-river forecasts offices in their areas. Northeast storm warnings for strong to gale force winds are displayed along the coast from Cape Hatteras, N. C., to Block Island and warnings will be extended along the New England coast later this evening.
Senator LEHMAN. Mr. Ladd, I want to ask you one more question. Have you any idea how many of the residents of Providence either in business or occupants of private homes have flood insurance or have any insurance?
Mr. LADD. Senator, during the last flood there was only one firm which I know of which did have insurance with Lloyds, and that was a very substantial amount. And Lloyds, of course, has the responsi