I HAVE today signed S. 3062, the Disaster Relief Act amendments of 1974.
This bill amends the Disaster Relief Act of 1970 by further extending the assistance available from the Federal Government for individuals and States and local communities suffering from the effects of disasters such as the tornadoes that ravaged a wide area of the Nation early last month. It also strengthens disaster planning and preparedness and requires as a condition to receiving Federal assistance that insurance coverage be provided to protect property against future disaster losses.
Since taking office, I have had to declare over 180 major disasters in 42 States. The amount of Federal assistance given to disaster victims has been greatly expanded, and this Administration has made every effort to provide this aid more equitably and expeditiously. Last year, I sent a message to the Congress outlining this Administration's proposals for improving the assistance which the Federal Government can provide in time of major disasters and other emergencies and for increasing the role of State and local governments in disaster recovery. The Congress, while altering the particulars of some of my proposals, has incorporated in this bill the essential features of a sound disaster assistance program. Combined with the Flood Disaster Protection Act that I signed into law on December 31, 1973, this new disaster relief law truly brings the New Federalism to our disaster preparedness and assistance activities.
I congratulate the Congress for acting speedily and responsibly in responding to the needs of those who are suffering as a result of the recent tornadoes--and of those who may face similar problems in the future. This bill responds to a vital need of the American people, and it demonstrates that the Federal Government, in cooperation with State and local authorities, is ready and able to provide compassionate assistance to the victims of natural disasters.