Letter to Governor Roberts of Rhode Island on the Recommendations of the New England Governors' Conference.
[Released October 18, 1955. Dated October 17, 1955]
Dear Governor Roberts:
I appreciate your letters and the resolutions of the New England Governors' Conference. At the outset I want to reaffirm the determination of the entire Administration to assist the States and people of the Northeast in developing adequate protections against future flood and hurricane losses.
Aside from the resolution concerning establishment of atomic reactor generating plants in New England, about which I shall write you a separate letter, I shall discuss below for your convenience each of the Governors' recommendations and the status of our efforts concerning them.
First, the Governors recommend that $1,500,000 of emergency funds be made immediately available to accelerate the planning of certain authorized flood control structures. For some weeks we have been striving to do exactly this but still lack the needed Congressional concurrences to permit it. These efforts are continuing, with the cooperation of Members of the New England Congressional Delegation. The Administration shares the Governors' hope that this matter can be successfully resolved. Certainly all that can be done to that end is being done.
Second, the Conference recommends a $3,400,000 supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 1956 to start construction of authorized flood control projects on which planning has been completed. The amount of funds the Administration will recommend for this purpose will be affected by the success or failure of attempts to secure the Congressional concurrences mentioned above, but I assure the Governors that in January such a supplemental request will be submitted to the Congress. Detailed studies of this matter are already well under way in the affected Government agencies.
Third, it is urged that $100,000 be provided in supplemental 1956 funds for studies of possible new flood construction projects in New England. This matter, too, is far along in governmental processes. Funds therefor will be recommended to the Congress.
Fourth, the Governors recommend that $34,300,000 be requested of the Congress in the 1957 budget to accelerate flood control construction. It is too early to give a figure, but you can count on our recommending additional funds for this purpose in the 1957 budget. The size of this item in the budget will also be affected by the results of our efforts to obtain the Congressional concurrences mentioned above.
Fifth, the Governors urge the Administration to include $12,453,000 in the 1957 budget for construction of navigation and beach erosion projects. This item would appear to be less critically needed than the others mentioned, but it is undergoing careful examination and will unquestionably receive attention in the 1957 budget.
Sixth, the Governors urge $200,000 more in 1956 to expand and expedite the authorized hurricane survey for the New England States. I can assure you that additional funds will be recommended for this purpose in both the 1956 and 1957 budgets.
Seventh, the Governors recommend that the Secretary of Commerce organize the resources of his Department in support of Federal disaster insurance. Some weeks ago this matter was taken under close scrutiny. It is now being examined by all Federal agencies concerned, under the general direction of the Bureau of the Budget and the Housing and Home Finance Agency. The Senate Banking and Currency Committee will hold hearings on this problem late this month. The Administration will present specific legislative suggestions at that time.
I am confident of your appreciation of the impossibility of setting forth specifics, either in projects or amounts of money, at this stage in the formulation of our budgetary planning. Appropriation requests, both for the rest of the fiscal year and for the 1957 fiscal year, to accelerate Corps of Engineers' flood control activities in the Northeastern States are now undergoing analysis in connection with our overall budget recommendations. These recommendations will go to the Congress in January. I will see that you are furnished the approved project list and the sums involved when these data have been prepared for Congressional submission.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
The Honorable Dennis J. Roberts
Governor, State of Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island
P.S. The foregoing letter was prepared before the additional floods which occurred this last weekend. When the reports of the extent of the damage are in, we shall, of course, take into account whatever modifications in the above program are necessary to meet whatever emergency that now confronts us. We can well imagine how discouraging this additional disaster must be to the people in New England already so sorely afflicted.
Note: This letter was released at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colo.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter to Governor Roberts of Rhode Island on the Recommendations of the New England Governors' Conference. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233639