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Statement on Signing a Disaster Recovery Bill.

August 16, 1972

FOUR weeks ago I proposed to the Congress three extraordinary measures to relieve the record damage inflicted by Tropical Storm Agnes and the flooding of Rapid City, S. Dak.

The immensity of these disasters is measurable not in destruction of property alone, but also in terms of loss of jobs, disruption of families, personal privation, and anxieties about the future.

The scale and scope of these disasters demanded special action by a compassionate Government, and it was this kind of action I called for.

One of my three proposed measures, H.R. 15950, concerned with the reconstruction of highways, became law on August 3, 1972. Today, I am gratified to sign into law the second of my proposals, H.R. 15692.

This measure contains highly significant changes in the terms of Government disaster loans. Interest rates are reduced to one percent, and up to $5,000 of loan principal does not have to be repaid. This bill will help victims who were homeowners to rebuild their homes. It also makes special assistance available to the disabled and retired. It will make loans available to stricken farmers and will encourage damaged businesses to rebuild and to remain in their communities by providing working capital loans as well as loans for restoration of existing plants.

In addition, this legislation provides emergency assistance for nonprofit private educational institutions comparable to assistance already provided for public educational institutions.

This legislation is evidence that when the country is faced with a serious disaster, the Government can respond quickly and effectively. The stamina, courage, and spirit of the disaster victims evidenced throughout the stricken areas have earned them nothing less than the unprecedented response.

I am pleased that the Congress has acted to provide this essential and immediately needed relief for the victims of the Agnes disaster, but I am also concerned about the future. The Congress has reflected a similar concern by including a provision in the bill calling for this Administration's review of and recommendations for a comprehensive revision of the Disaster Relief Act of 1970 by next January.

It is my intention to comply with this request, but I believe that, in addition to disaster relief, equal emphasis must be placed on strengthening our efforts in preventive measures. Consequently, I have instructed the appropriate agencies to provide me with recommendations to strengthen the Federal flood insurance program.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 15692 is Public Law 92-385 (86 Stat. 554).

On the same day, the President signed Executive Order 11678 providing for the repair and restoration of nonprofit private educational institutions damaged by Tropical Storm Agnes.

Richard Nixon, Statement on Signing a Disaster Recovery Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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