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COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
CLARENCE CANNON, Missouri, Chairman JOHN H. KERR, North Carolina
JOHN TABER, New York GEORGE H. MAHON, Texas
RICHARD B. WIGGLESWORTH, Massachusetts HARRY R. SHEPPARD, California
KARL STEFAN, Nebraska ALBERT THOMAS, Texas
BEN F. JENSEN, Iowa MICHAEL J. KIRWAN, Ohio
H. CARL ANDERSEN, Minnesota W. F. NORRELL, Arkansas
WALT HORAN, Washington ALBERT GORE, Tennessee
GORDON CANFIELD, New Jersey JAMIE L. WHITTEN, Mississippi
IVOR D. FENTON, Pennsylvania GEORGE W. ANDREWS, Alabama
LOWELL STOCKMAN, Oregon JOHN J. ROONEY, New York
JOHN PHILLIPS, California J. VAUGHAN GARY, Virginia
ERRETT P. SCRIVNER, Kansas JOE B. BATES, Kentucky
FREDERIC R. COUDERT, JR., New York JOHN E. FOGARTY, Rhode Island
CLIFF CLEVENGER, Ohio HENRY M. JACKSON, Washington
EARL WILSON, Indiana ROBERT L. F. SIKES, Florida
NORRIS COTTON, New Hampshire ANTONIO M. FERNANDEZ, New Mexico GLENN R. DAVIS, Wisconsin WILLIAM G. STIGLER, Oklahoma
BENJAMIN F. JAMES, Pennsylvania E. H. HEDRICK, West Virginia
GERALD R. FORD, JR., Michigan PRINCE H. PRESTON, JR., Georgia
FRED E. BUSBEY, Illinois
GEORGE B. SCHWABE, Oklahoma
GEORGE Y. HARVEY, Clerk
REHABILITION OF FLOOD STRICKEN AREAS, 1952
SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE ON REHABILITATION OF FLOOD
W. F. NORRELL, Arkansas, Chairman JAMIE L. WHITTEN, Mississippi CLIFF CLEVENGER, Ohio FOSTER FURCOLO, Massachusetts NORRIS COTTON, New Hampshire
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1951.
WITNESSES A. E. HOWSE, PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DIRECTOR,
OFFICE OF DEFENSE MOBILIZATION HON. CHARLES F. BRANNAN, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF AGRI
CULTURE HERBERT J. WATERS, ASSISTANT TO THE UNDERSECRETARY OF
AGRICULTURE RAYMOND M. FOLEY, ADMINISTRATOR, HOUSING AND HOME
FINANCE AGENCY PETER I. BUKOWSKI, DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR, RECONSTRUTION
FINANCE CORPORATION H. F. HURLEY, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, OFFICE OF DEFENSE
MOBILIZATION E. D. CANDEE, ASSISTANT TO MR. HOWSE, OFFICE OF DEFENSE
MOBILIZATION CAPT. J. W. KELLY, AIDE TO MR. HOWSE, OFFICE OF DEFENSE
MOBILIZATION J. P. BRADLEY, LEGISLATIVE ATTORNEY, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET
Mr. NORRELL. The committee will come to order. I would like the record to show the presence of the entire membership of the special committee, with no absentees this morning.
The special committee has been created by Chairman Cannon to hear the budget estimates submitted by the President regarding the recent flood disaster in the Middle West, amounting to $400 million.
We are glad to have with us this morning Mr. Howse, who is assistant to, and personal representative of, the Director of the Office of Defense Mobilization. He will testify first and will be tbe leading or key witness in regard to this budget estimate.
At this point we will let the record include House Document No. 228. (The document is as follows:)
(H. Doc. No. 228, 82d Cong., 1st sess.) MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TRANSMITTING A REPORT
RELATIVE TO THE FLOOD DISASTER IN THE MIDDLE WEST OF THE UNITED
I request your urgent consideration of a matter of grave emergency. A great flood disaster-one of the most terrible in the history of the United States—has
struck a vast area of the Middle West. The center of its devastation is the valley of the Kansas River, but destruction is spread through other Kansas valleys and parts of Missouri and Oklahoma, and has touched several of the adjacent States.
From May 15 to early July, rain fell almost constantly over an area of thousands of square miles, with the heaviest downpours concentrated in south-central Kansas. By early July, the streams and rivers of Kansas had risen to unprecedented heights. Reservoirs, where they existed, overflowed. Millions of tons of water plunged downstream, crumbling dikes and levees all along the course and sweeping away homes, farms, businesses, roads, bridges, and communication lines. The crest of the flood hit the concentrated industrial area along the river banks at Kansas City, Kans., and Kansas City, Mo., on July 13, and swept a path of destruction across the entire width of Missouri before its force was spent.
The velocity of the waters, as well as their depth and volume, was without parallel in the recorded history of the region. For the month of July, stream How in central Kansas was 70 times normal.
The loss to the Nation along 1,000 miles of river valleys is now being measured. Already more than $1,000,000,000 in physical damage and at least that much more in loss of income has been counted in preliminary estimates. When the final estimate is in, the toll will be greater.
I wish that every Member of the Congress could have flown, as I did, over these valleys at the height of the flood. I wish that every Member of the Congress could now tramp through the desolated cities of Kansas and drive through the wasteland where lie what were some of the richest farm acres in the world, their crops now obliterated.
It is estimated that 30,000 to 40,000 homes were flooded. Of these, some 10,000 or 15,000 are destroyed or have suffered major damage-many beyond repair.
At the peak of the flood, some two or three hundred thousand persons were driven from their homes. At least 20,000 of these are still displaced-living in schoolhouses, churches, auditoriums, trailer camps, temporary housing, or with relatives, friends, or strangers who took them in when the disaster struck.
At least 5,000,000 acres of farm land, including some of the richest and most productive agricultural land in the Nation, has been badly damaged. Land in the path of the floods was gouged and eroded, its topsoil carried away. At least 30,000 farms were wholly or partially under water-many standing under 25 feet or more at the peak and remaining flooded for many days. When the water left, thousands of acres were buried under sand and gravel. Thousands of acres are still covered by “trapped water" and must be drained. A year's crops were destroyed, hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of livestock killed, several million dollars worth of critical farm machinery and equipment destroyed or seriously damaged.
At least 10,000 miles of fences were destroyed-enough to skirt the perimeter of the United States. Farm buildings were damaged on 17,000 farms.
At least 5,000 small businesses were completely or partially destroyed. Store and factory buildings were swept away, merchandise and equipment ruined.
More than $1,000,000,000 of loss—in property damage, and loss of production and employment-has already been suffered by the industries that are tightly concentrated along the Kansas and Missouri Rivers at Kansas City, Kans., and Kansas City, Mo.
In many cases, particularly upstream, time was too short and trucks too few to allow families to save their furniture and other household possessions. As the crisis struck, organized effort had to be devoted to saving life. Few lives were lost, but many families today have virtually nothing beyond the clothes they wore when they fled, or were rescued from the path of the waters.
In the American tradition, neighbors have taken care of neighbors. Every refugee is being sheltered; everyone is fed. Cities not flooded have "adopted" stricken cities. States and communities with emergency Federal aid are restoring and repairing roads, utilities, and public buildings. A great national organization, the American Red Cross, has done and is doing the heroic emergency job that people stricken with disaster can always count upon. During the crisis, Federal agencies, particularly the units of the Armed Forces in the area, threw all available men and resources into the fight to minimize the destruction.
In the tremendous task of putting families and communities back on their feet, the Federal Government now can do two things: First, under the Disaster Relief Act of 1950, regular activities of several Federal agencies can be specially directed to emergency aid, and $25,000,000 has been appropriated to assist communities in clearing debris, in health protection, in the emergency repair of public property, and to provide temporary housing and for other emergency relief. Mr. Raymond M. Foley, Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance
agency, is responsible for these funds, and for coordinating Federal agency emergency relief activities.
Thus far, nearly $11,000,000 has been allocated to Federal agencies and to State governments for reallocation to local governmental units. Temporary housing needs, remaining clean-up costs, and estimates now being completed by States and communities to cover emergency repairs to waterworks, sewer systems, streets, roads, bridges, and other community facilities will probably exhaust the remaining $14,000,000, even with the fullest contributions the local governments can themselves make.
Second, a number of lending agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the Housing and Home Finance Agency, the Veterans' Administration, and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, can to a limited extent make or insure loans for the rehabilitation of farms, homes, and businesses.
But in a disaster of this magnitude, the combined resources now available to the Federal Government, the States, and the local communities, and private organizations such as the American Red Cross, are far from enough to accomplish the tremendous task of restoring for the Nation the productivity and economic vitality of one of its major regions.
There are two reasons why the Nation must act, and at once, to restore the stricken regions to economic health.
The first is humanitarian. The victims of the flood must be given opportunity to renew their farming, to reopen their businesses, to build new homes, to find employment, and without a crushing burden of new debt for every individual. In this land we do not take the view that a man's misfortune, suffered through no fault of his own, is his own affair, or that a stricken community shall be left to shift for itself. Normally, the aid comes from local resources or from those of private relief agencies. But when the disaster spreads beyond the capacity of those resources, then the Nation itself must act to share the loss.
The second reason that we are now engaged as a Nation in a struggle for survival, and we cannot afford to dispense for long with the industrial and agricultural production that came but is not now coming from the flooded areas. The industries in those valleys turned out hundreds of products that are critical in the building of military and economic strength. Our meat supply will be seriously affected by the loss of corn and livestock, and the food supplies of not only this Nation but the whole free world may suffer from the loss of wheat.
Because of the effect of the disaster on the defense effort, I assigned to the Director of Defense Mobilization, Mr. Charles E. Wilson, the task of coordinating long-range Federal rehabilitation activities as distinguished from the emergency relief aid previously described. Mr. Alfred E. Howse, of Mr. Wilson's staff, has been directing this work in the flood area. They have seen to it that priorities have been granted for repair work in the area, and that all types of aid have been extended within the limits of existing laws and funds. The recommendations contained in this message are based upon their estimates, after a month of close observation.
We urgently need to take steps to relieve human suffering and restore economic life in this flood area, and to protect against future losses from disasters of this type.
În the long run, of course, the greatest need is for the prevention of floods, through carefully planned and coordinated programs of conservation and water control. Until flood prevention can be assured, however, other measures are urgently required to meet the needs of the present and of the immediate future.
I recommend, therefore, that the Congress at once approve an appropriation of $400,000,000 for the following purposes:
1. To indemnify the flood victims for a portion of their loss of real and personal property.
2. To make and guarantee loans on liberal terms for the building of homes and businesses to replace those destroyed.
3. To help farmers drain and rehabilitate their land, replace buildings, and restore the productive capacity of their farms, through on-farm assistance and disaster loans.
4. To permit loans where necessary to enable State and local government participation in the rehabilitation activities.
5. To provide funds to establish a national system of flood-disaster ipsurance, similar to the war-damage insurance system of World War II. To administer the program, I expect to establish a Fiood Disaster Administration as a small policy and control body, with operating functions placed in existing Federal and State departments and agencies.