Remarks in Kingston, Pennsylvania, Following Inspection of Damage Caused by Tropical Storm Agnes.
I APPRECIATE the opportunity to meet so many of you on this visit to Wilkes-Barre, and also to express appreciation to those in government who are working here and particularly to Frank Carlucci, who symbolizes the Government effort.
He came, of course, from Wilkes-Barre. He is a strong man. He is a very intelligent man and he cares about people. I think what I like about his effort most of all is that he has personalized the Government.
You know, you usually think of the Government and all that money that it has and all the agencies--there is HUD, and then there is HEW, and all those initials. But in Frank Carlucci you see a man who cares. He talks to every individual person. That is what we want your Government to be, one that cares about each of you individually.
Now, I also realize that as we look at this effort here that a lot remains to be done. This has been a devastating flood. I saw what happened in Harrisburg when I visited right after the floods. I have had an opportunity to see what the situation is here, months after the floods have occurred. I know that as I drove through the business district and through the residential district that so many places of business, so many houses, still remain to be rebuilt. And as a result many are living in these Government facilities, the trailers, the mobile homes that we have just looked at.
Let me just give one thought to the people here, perhaps from a bigger viewpoint. Sometimes when something terrible happens in your life, your home is washed away or something like that, you tend to just think about your own problems and you lose sight of the bigger picture. You lose your spirit and you lose your hope. The most important thing as far as Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, all these areas are concerned, is what you feel in your hearts about your future and the future of your town and the future of your State and the future of your country.
I have seen a lot of devastation in my travels around the world. For example, we all have heard of San Francisco as being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In fact, foreign diplomats, they all want to go to San Francisco, the most beautiful city. Yet, it was only 60 years ago that San Francisco was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake and a fire. Then they rebuilt it and they rebuilt it until it was more beautiful than ever. Today everybody goes to San Francisco to see that beautiful city.
It isn't just in America that you see that. Rotterdam, for example, was a city that was almost totally destroyed by bombs, and there was only one building in the center of the town where the few that were left on the council of the city got together and talked not about the destruction, but how they were going to rebuild the city. Today it is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but rebuilt from the ground up. All of the old that should probably have been replaced now has been replaced with something new, something better.
I was in Kiev, Russia, down in the Ukraine. You watched the Olympics. You know some of the great runners, the athletes, came from the Ukraine. They are very proud there that after that city was almost totally destroyed in World War II they rebuilt it better than ever.
I wondered when I came up to Wilkes-Barre--I wondered, of course, whether Carlucci was doing a good job--I know he is. I wondered whether or not we were providing the money that we should and I know we are providing a great deal, and of course we will provide what is necessary, what we can. I wondered, too, whether the Federal agencies were working together rather than against each other. Due to Carlucci they are working together and they are not fighting each other; they are fighting the problem. That is what government is supposed to do.
But the thing that I wondered about the most was whether the people of Wilkes-Barre had the spirit of the people of San Francisco, the spirit of the people of Rotterdam, the people of Kiev. And I think I saw it.
This is something that I want to leave with all of you. What impressed me as I drove through--I saw the people, I have met you, I see the smiles on your faces, I see the courage of the young and the old--but what really impressed me was to see a house almost totally destroyed and a flag on it, an American flag flying there high in the breeze. That tells us something about America.
You wonder, of course, about this kind of a visit. I know that many of the people were very kind. They said, "Thank you for coming, you have made us feel better." I want you to know that you have made me feel better. I have never been so proud of America and of the American people as I am today. You are great people. We appreciate what you have done for the spirit of Wilkes-Barre, the spirit of this country.
In that connection, I would simply close by saying that as I went by the Paramount Theatre I saw a sign on it, a wonderful sign. It says, "We will be opening soon with a brand new look." That is going to be Wilkes-Barre. Wilkes-Barre is going to be cleaned up. It is going to be opened up. It is going to have a brand new look. It is going to be better than ever. But it is going to be better than ever not because of what government did--we can help--but it is going to be better than ever because of what you did, what you believe in, your faith, your spirit. You are going to make it better than ever, and we are going to help you.
Thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at approximately 2:15 p.m. at Scanlon Field Mobile Home Park. He spoke without referring to notes.
Prior to the President's departure for Wilkes-Barre, Frank C. Carlucci, Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget, met with him at Camp David, Md., to report on Federal disaster assistance in Wilkes-Barre and other areas of Pennsylvania following Tropical Storm Agnes.
On the same day, the White House released the text of a memorandum to the President from Mr. Carlucci on disaster recovery efforts in Wyoming Valley, Pa. The memorandum is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 8, p. 1353). The White House also released a fact sheet on Tropical Storm Agnes recovery efforts.
Richard Nixon, Remarks in Kingston, Pennsylvania, Following Inspection of Damage Caused by Tropical Storm Agnes. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/254918