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Letter to the Administrator, Federal Works Agency, on the Disaster Surplus Property Program.

March 04, 1948

[ Released March 4, 1948. Dated March 3, 1948 ]

My dear General Fleming:

Thank you for your timely letter pointing out the danger that the Disaster Surplus Property Program may not provide adequate relief to stricken communities in the future.

This matter has been on my mind as I have watched the disposal of surplus property held by the War Assets Administration.

I am gratified to know that you are studying this problem and I want to thank you for your consistent efforts to coordinate disaster relief. We should now give consideration to making a permanent arrangement for disaster relief.

Very sincerely yours,


[Major General Philip B. Fleming, Administrator, Federal Works Agency, Washington 25, D.C.]

Note: General Fleming's letter, dated March 1, 1948, was released with the President's reply. The letter described the operation of the Disaster Surplus Property Program in nine stricken areas. Conceding that the American Red Cross "continues to do its magnificent job of providing, as far as its resources permit, for the alleviation of personal hardship and suffering," General Fleming stated that a broad field remained where aid must be channelled through governmental agencies.

"The Disaster Surplus Property Program has proved its worth," the letter added, "in many areas where equipment and materials were not locally available to fill the unforeseeable gaps. This approach is in contrast to a long record of improvised and often inadequate disaster relief. Both my own experience and the nature of the problem lead me to believe that the time has come to consider a national policy for Federal aid in these situations .... Looking to the not-distant future when our pool of War Assets resources is disposed of, the Nation may be ill-prepared to aid stricken areas . . . unless we have adopted a sound program of mobilization for disaster."

Harry S Truman, Letter to the Administrator, Federal Works Agency, on the Disaster Surplus Property Program. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232425

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