Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks Following a Meeting With the Governors of Flood-Stricken States at Bradley Field, Hartford, Connecticut.

August 23, 1955

[Broadcast over radio]

My Fellow Americans:

I have met here with the Governors and Federal officials that you have heard mentioned in this broadcast. Like the rest of you, I read in the papers, saw on the television, and heard on the radio about this great disaster. You can have no conception of what has happened until you come here and listen to these Governors, what has happened in each State--industries flattened, cities practically paralyzed, communications halted, people out of work, suffering--in certain instances missing members of their families, not knowing where they are. This is a case where the Federal Government, the State government, the county government, the city government will do every possible thing they can. But they operate under laws--laws made by your representatives. And those laws are necessarily limited in the scope of authority they delegate.

Governor Peterson has mentioned how meager are the funds now available to the Federal Government for this specific purpose. I am going to consult immediately with the leaders of Congress. If necessary, I shall call a special session. But what I want to talk about now just for a moment is this: the great value of Red Cross money. Red Cross money is not limited. It goes to people who are in need--to human beings, not just to cleaning roads and rebuilding schools but to people that are hungry, or cold and have no place to go. In my opinion everybody in America within the sound of my voice will sleep better tonight if he turns in everything that he can spare to meet this great disaster that has happened to our fellow Americans. This is a chance where each of us can rise to an emergency and prove that the American people regardless of governments, regardless of the limitations on them can meet an emergency and do it well. I hope you will do it instantly so that by tomorrow night Mr. Roland Harriman here, the Chairman of the Red Cross, will know that he doesn't have to be meager or stingy in the allocations he makes to these areas.

In the meantime, I pledge again the Federal Government--and I pledge on the part of all these Governors who made the pledge to me that State governments are going to do everything that is possible to alleviate this situation. We're going into the business of seeing whether we can prevent these floods in the future on a long-range basis, whether we can get insurance through some cooperation between insurance companies and State and Federal governments to prevent the kind of losses that have been suffered by our industries. We're going to try to get work in here to employ these people usefully. We're going to do everything that's possible and won't you do your part right away-quickly? Thank you very much.

NOTE.: In the second paragraph the President referred to Val Peterson, Administrator, Federal Civil Defense Administration.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks Following a Meeting With the Governors of Flood-Stricken States at Bradley Field, Hartford, Connecticut. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233537

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