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Special Message to the Congress Proposing Disaster Preparedness and Assistance Legislation

May 08, 1973

To the Congress of the United States:

I am today submitting for the consideration of the Congress the Disaster Preparedness and Assistance Act of 1973. This legislation has resulted from a comprehensive review of all our disaster assistance activities as called for under Public Law 92--385, enacted last August.

A major objective of this bill is to consolidate the responsibility for disaster assistance, reducing the number of Federal agencies involved in these efforts, eliminating overlapping responsibilities and distributing benefits on a more equitable basis. Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1973, in which the Congress has already concurred, provides the organizational structure for achieving this consolidation under the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. This new legislation would also do a great deal to strengthen the role of State and local governments and of private institutions in meeting this important challenge.

In addition, as its name clearly implies, this bill would place greater emphasis on protecting people and property against the effects of disasters before they occur. In this same connection, I would call once again for prompt enactment of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 which I submitted to the Congress several weeks ago.

The Disaster Preparedness and Assistance Act of 1973 represents a comprehensive new approach to a very crucial problem. To ease the transition to this new system, I propose that during its first year of operation a special Federal grant of $250,000 be provided to each State to help it increase its disaster preparedness and assistance capabilities.

Last year set a new record for the number of disasters which had to be formally declared by the President of the United States--48 in all. Already this year, spring floods and tornadoes have brought tragedy to many areas of our country.

While we cannot fully control the occurrence and the impact of disasters, we must do all we can to prepare for them, to prevent them, and to mitigate and remedy their effects. The legislation I am submitting today can help us do all these things more efficiently and more effectively and I strongly urge its prompt enactment.


The White House,

May 8, 1973.

Note: On the same day, the White House released a fact sheet and the transcript of a news briefing on the proposed legislation. Participants in the news briefing were Darrell M. Trent, Acting Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and Floyd H. Hyde, Under Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Richard Nixon, Special Message to the Congress Proposing Disaster Preparedness and Assistance Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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