THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Arnold, Missouri) ______________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 17, 1993
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN MEETING FOR FLOOD RELIEF AND RECOVERY MOBILIZATION
Fox Senior High School Arnold, Missouri
10:22 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. As you know, we're starting just a bit late because we all had to come down from the airport and we came in different ways. I do want to thank everyone for being here and say this is a rather extraordinary meeting of federal, state, local and private sector emergency response people.
We're going to try to get through a very busy agenda today, and it will be my job to try to keep us more or less on schedule. So I hope we can, because there are an awful lot of issues that have to be dealt with.
I'd like to thank the governors who are here. Our host, Mel Carnahan, of Missouri. Terry Branstad of Iowa I think is here. There he is; I missed him when I went around -- who hosted me on a trip to Iowa -- two trips to Iowa recently. Is Governor Thompson of Wisconsin here? I think he's coming. Governor Edgar of Illinois; Ben Nelson of Nebraska; Ed Schaffer of North Dakota; Arne Carlson of Minnesota; and Walter Miller of South Dakota. I think that is all the governors who are here.
I'd also like to thank the members of Congress who are here or who are scheduled to come. We have Senator Barbara Mikulski at the table whose committee has jurisdiction over the operations of emergency management. Senator Kit Bond from Missouri, our host. Senator Bill Bradley is here somewhere or on the way, whose family farm in Missouri is apparently under water. He may be here in his private capacity rather than as United States Senator.
We're delighted to be in the host district of the Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, Dick Gephardt. And I want him to say a word in a moment, since we're camped out here in his backyard. Congressman Bruce Vento from Minnesota; Congressman Peter Hoagland from Nebraska; Congressman Minge, Congressman Volkmer is coming I think. And Congressman Pomeroy is here. And I think Senator Wellstone from Minnesota is scheduled to come.
Let me also tell you, all of you from all these states, that we had -- the Vice President and I and our administration team had an extensive meeting yesterday in Washington with the congressional delegations from all the affected states. And you will be very interested to know that not only did virtually every member of Congress from every state here represented show up, but there was also a rather substantial representation from interested members of Congress from other states who just wanted to be there, get a briefing and know what they could do to help. It was a very, very large and very impressive turnout. And I told them all we were coming here today. I invited them here. But most of them did their work on this issue yesterday at that meeting.
Did I recognize Congressman *Wheat? I don't know if I did, but he's here. Thank you.
I also want to say that there are -- the heads are secretaries of 10 federal departments or agencies in our administration ar here working together. And I'd like to briefly acknowledge them so you'll know who they are and ask them to at least raise their hands. James Lee Witt, the Director of FEMA; the Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Espy; Secretary of Transportation, Federico Pena; Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, who just became a grandfather to twins. (Applause.) He's only 35 years old. We can't figure out how it happened. (Laughter.) The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros; Secretary of Labor, Bob Reich; head of the Corps of Engineers, General Williams; the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Kime; and the head of the National Weather Service, Dr. Joe Friday is also here. And he and the Vice President had a very interesting conversation about what caused this flood. They're going to talk a little in a minute. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Leon Panetta. And I'd also like to recognize in the audience the head of the American Red Cross, Elizabeth Dole who flew down with us. And the Red Cross has done wonderful work, and we thank you for being here.
Now, I'd like to ask Congressman Gephardt if he'd like to say anything on behalf of his district. And then I want to recognize the Vice President for opening remarks.
CONGRESSMAN GEPHARDT: Mr. President -- (mike not on) -- I want to welcome on behalf of the people of Jefferson County, Missouri, I want to welcome all of the distinguished and -- guests. I think it is a plight we saw, an unprecedented tragedy. And this is an unprecedented response by you and your administration.
Vice President Gore was here on Monday and gave hope to people and saw the immensity of this problem. And we really appreciate -- I know everyone here, the citizens, appreciate your being here.
Finally, I would say that I was out at one of the levies in my district the other day and the man who was leading the effort of sandbagging for three days and nights broke down and cried. And he said, please help us. And he said please pray for us.
And I think as we go to work today to try to make our governmental response more efficient, we do have to say a prayer because it is obvious that this tragedy is in the hands of God as well as our hands, and should give us impetus to do our very best to help people at a time of great need.
Thank you for being here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I would just like to say in response to that, I think it's fair to say that all of us in the administration who have been to this region have been very moved by what we have seen, both the pain that people have experienced and their enormous courage and often their great good humor in dealing with this crisis.
I also want to thank the people in the rest of the United States who have sent help of all kinds. We even have seen help coming in from South Florida, which suffered so much from Hurricane Andrew last year.
I do want to say, too, we are here to deal with basically two great issues -- one is, what are we going to do right now, while everybody is up to their ears in alligators? And the second is, how are we going to keep this effort going over the long run until -- so that we can see these areas through to full recovery.
There has been a disjuncture in the past, I think, between what happens in the short run. There's all kind of questions about whether we've had enough coordination or not. I think we've really worked through that this time. But also whether the federal government can stay in the long run. And there is an almost collective emotional process that people go through when it first hits, folks are brave and good humored and courageous. But then the reality of the losses that sink in and a grief takes over. And then, if everyone is not at least doing their best, a lot of anger can come in the wake of that.
And our goal is to just be a good partner and to sensitively know that people will have to go through an emotional cycle and the whole states will go through an emotional cycle. But we don't want people to think that they have been abandoned when the immediate emergency is over. So we're going to start this meeting with a discussion of the present conditions and what we can do in the short run. Then we're going to go to a discussion of long-term relief. And then at the end of the discussion, we're going to move to the legislation that is now moving through Congress, what it means and where we go from here.
Let me just introduce the Vice President with this thought. I read the other day that a 61-year-old retired state police officer in Quincy, Illinois, was fighting to save that bridge up there. And as you know, unfortunately, the Fabius Levey broke in spite of their best efforts and the bridge has now been closed. So there's no link for about 200 miles now across the Mississippi River. But this police officer said, it's a shame the rest of the country can't come together like this to solve its problems.
I thought that was such a simple and yet brilliant statement. I hope that we can come away from this with a sense that we've all done our very best to work together to solve this problem, and that we will take the powerful example of human courage that we have seen in countless places across these states to follow that.
Again, I want to say to all of you, I thank you for taking your time to come today. We will run through a rather brisk schedule. And I want to begin with the Vice President who has been to this region twice and who, I think, has done a very good job, especially when I was away on the G-7 meeting. And I'm very grateful to him. But he has a little insight on exactly what the scope of the damage is and how it all came about. And I think it would be good to sort of set the stage with his remarks.
Mr. Vice President.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, this is about people and it's a heartbreaking tragedy for the families who have been affected by it. And yet it's also a story, as you've said, of everybody pulling together, primarily at the local level and the state level where the brunt of the work is being done. But your team really has pulled together. The people you've mentioned are joined by a lot of the emergency operations directors for every agency involved in this effort, also making up the crowd here.
And the parts of your government that deal with the scientific analysis of what is going on have also been pulling together in an unprecedented way.
I'm going to take two minutes to present four pictures. They are the result of analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Secretary Brown's Commerce Department. The Defense Department which has put some new instruments on its satellites -- they were put there recently, not specifically for this flood, but they are producing some startling images. The Central Intelligence Agency has been involved in producing imagery, and I will show one image that has never been seen because it was just produced last night. They stayed up most of the night putting this image together. And Dr. Joe Friday from -- the head of the National Weather Service is going to help me with this.
Just very briefly -- and, Dr. Friday, you get me out of trouble if I get into it here. What the consensus among the people who study these things is, is that what's caused this situation is an extremely unusual weather pattern where there is much hotter than normal air in a persistent pattern over the Atlantic and Atlantic coastal area. And the weather forecasting professionals are saying that they don't remember anything like this in their careers. There may have been something previously, but they've never seen anything like this before. And it's just staying there -- they described it as a little bit like Jell-O in the sense that the weather -- the winds that will push it but it just comes right back. It stays right there.
Normally the jet stream pushes weather systems across the continent. But because this is staying there, it's turning north right when it encounters this huge mass of very hot air. With the warm, moist air coming in constantly from the Gulf and this huge convergence zone with the contrast between the very hot air and very cold, it's just wringing all that moisture out every single day. Typically, as you all know very well, in the afternoon and the evening, practically everyday it rains. The area where it rains moves back and forth a little bit throughout the upper Midwest and the Midwest, but it's been raining and thunderstorms every single day.
Now, there are basically two kinds of flooding that all these people have been dealing with. The part that has been the most visible has been the rivers coming out of their boundaries, of course, and covering a much larger area. And it's important to point out, as Senator Bond often says, that a lot of the flooding that is causing serious damage is not really visible because it's way up in the tributaries in the Grand the upper reaches of the Missouri. And, of course, the Des Moines River and Raccoon River caused that problem six days ago. And just yesterday the Red River in Fargo, flowing north, created the situation up there.
Okay, the third one shows -- all right, now this is this brand-new that I referred to. The second kind of flooding that has not received the same kind of attention is moisture that pools up on the flat farmland. Now, this is a brand-new satellite image that shows soil moisture. And the darker it is the more moist it is. And what you see here on the border, between Minnesota and Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska is a very shallow and temporary great lake. It is as if another great lake has been added to the map of the United States. Very shallow and temporary, but the damage in this area is extensive.
And the final image is a -- just a before and after satellite picture of much of the region. We will pass small copies of these around. You see the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Illinois, before and after. The cloud cover makes it a little hard to see. But you can see, for example, the normal size of the channel and what it is here.
Dr. Joe *Friday will be available throughout the sessions today. And his experts are available. And a lot of folks when I was here on Monday wanted to know why. And as Dick Gephardt says, there's a lot about that that we will never answer -- in any event.
One final point, Mr. President, they say that while all of this is unpredictable, their best guess is that this persistent weather pattern could last for several more weeks. And so what we see now is potentially something that we'll have to be dealing with for some time.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I'd like to now call on the White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty to make a few remarks. I have asked Mack to oversee the White House coordination of this to ensure that it receives the best possible attention within the White House, and that we continue the very close coordination we've had with all these government departments represented here today.
MR. MCLARTY: Thank you, Mr. President. We have a full agenda, a number of important and critical matters to be discussed. So thus my comments will achieve appropriate brevity and coherence.
We feel the trips and efforts to visit here and other flood sites underscore a genuine commitment and concern about the people that have been impacted by these natural disasters. They were demonstrated in the President's two trips to Iowa, the Vice President's trips; Mike Espy, I think, has been to the Midwest at least on three occasions; Secretary Pena and others. And you really can't have the depth of understanding and appreciation unless you've been to one of these areas and seen the impact on people's lives.
The FEMA response under Direct Witt has been a very positive one. James Lee is a can-do, get-it-done type person. And we're very proud to have him in our administration. The state and local response, as the President noted has been exemplary. The volunteer efforts, and with Elizabeth Dole here today, and other organizations, has made a real different, has made the difference in many cases. And the human spirit has been something that has inspired us all.
So in large measure the safety and the public health issues are being met to the fullest extent possible. But there is a hole, as Senator Mikulski commented, after about two months. There are longer-term issues, particularly relating to economic recovery. This is a big problem. It's going to require a broad response on the part of all phases of government and a multifaceted response.
And you can see, our entire administration is engaged, as we should be, to hopefully achieve the maximum results, or put in another way, the maximum help in a thoughtful and a cost effective manner. We want to connect with each of the local and state agencies and provide the best and most effective assistance possible. To do that obviously is going to require a carefully and thoughtfully coordinated effort. That is absolutely essential.
And let me fully underscore in an appropriate way that we have some very capable and strong leaders in the Cabinet secretaries that are represented here today. They are caring. They are concerned. They are knowledgeable. And they are professionals.
And as importantly, they are team players. And thus the inner-agency coordination to provide the maximum assistance can be accomplished. They want to provide real help and real assistance to each of you.
Dick, as a youngster in Arkansas, we grew up with the St. Louis Cardinals and Mark Twain. And Twain, I think, once commented, even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. (Laughter.)
Well, we believe we're on the right track, and we don't intend to just sit there. We are committed to working closely with you in a responsive, in a consistent, and in a coordinated manner. And we look forward to the meeting this morning.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Before we begin to call on the governors, I'd like to ask Secretary Espy and our FEMA Director James Lee Witt to just briefly for about five minutes each review the current situation in the region and an overview of the present federal response.
They have spent more time here personally by quite a long ways than anyone else in our administration. And I think it's important that their views get out and that they have a chance just to make a few introductory remarks.
So I'd like Mr. Witt and Secretary Espy to talk in whatever order they have decided to speak.
MR. WITT: Thank you, Mr. President. It's good to be here. I hope that our response is going well with you. I want you to know that between Washington, DC, and the state and local emergency management structure, I have never in my life seen such a strong partnership working to response to these victims of this disaster. It is incredible.
In Washington, I
set up a conference call every morning at 9:30 a.m. with all the state directors of the affected states; with all of the federal agencies in on this conference call as well . And every morning we get exactly what each state needs or any issues that come up, and all the agencies on that conference call so they can respond right then to make a difference.
I think that has made a tremendous difference. Every day at 11:00 a.m. all the federal agencies convene. We all go through a briefing every day at 11:00 a.m. to make sure that we're meeting those needs that you have down on that state and local level. We're working 24 hours a day at headquarters at FEMA with all of the federal agencies working together as a strong partner.
The difference is that we are working together, from the White House all the way to the courthouse, and that's what's important.
Let me briefly go through state by state just shortly in the disaster application. And I know you're concerned about some of them. Minnesota, we have take 353 applications in our disaster application centers. Wisconsin, we've taken 1,614. Illinois, we've taken 1,652. Iowa, we've taken 5,266. Missouri, we've taken 4,501 -- totally about 13,386 applications.
Those people that are coming in for temporary housing -- we are returning those checks to them less than three to five days. That's incredibly fast. We're working on trying to get the other checks out in less than nine days. So we can get immediate relief to those disaster victims.
We have 229 counties declared in the five states at this time, with more that probably will be added. The Red Cross has sheltered 3,000 to 4,000 people to date. We have between 20,000 and 30,000 homes that have been affected by this flood, and probably will have more as the flood waters come up down in Missouri and on down. We have 23 disaster application centers open, with more to be added in the next few days.
We also have a tele-registration center open with a 1-800 number. Also we have a support tele-registration open in Maryland by volunteers to help support the one in Denton, so we do not miss that applicant's call. When they call they will get a free line, and that's important to try to keep down the frustration as much as we can because I have seen so much frustration in those individual homeowners with their basements flooded and they're losing all their possessions.
I just want you to know, particularly you governors, how much your state emergency management people have done and down on the local level as well. They have worked very hard, and we're going to do everything we can to support them and take care of your constituents in each of your states.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Secretary Espy.
SECRETARY ESPY: Mr. President, you, of course, have been up here many times and you have declared this as an awful disaster. Well, that just about sums it up. I've been up here in the upper midwest touring five times now. I've been to South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and of course, with Governor Branstad several times to Iowa. And just as Mr. Witt has said, I've never seen anything like this.
I'm from Mississippi, a state which, of course, is adjacent to the river. And down there in Mississippi we expect some annual flooding. Every spring we just look forward to it, just expect it -- it's coming. But, honestly, in my personal experience I've never seen anything like this.
The wettest season on record, 100-year flood. Losses are going to be tremendous, and as it relates to agriculture losses and reduction in yields and claims, I can make some estimates. I have to first say and couch it with the right caveat, that this is a moving target. It's still raining in parts of the region. It's still flooding. And of course, a lot of this land not now under water will become so. So these estimates will change and they will increase.
But -- and also I should say that on August 11, Mr. President, we'll have the most accurate assessment because our National Agriculture Statistical Survey comes in at that point, and we'll be able to give you through a survey of thousands and thousands of farmers just what the situation looks like.
But as I sit here today, of the nine states constituting the upper midwest here, we have about 20-plus million acres adversely affected by flooding or excessive moisture. Of that number, we have about eight million acres under water, crops that have been prevented from planting at all. As I said, it's too early to tell with any great degree of accuracy, but certain things are happening.
The window is closing now for all of these planting decisions. It's safe to say now that if you have not planted any crop by this time, you are unlikely to. And if you have planted, for instance, soybeans, it's also safe to say that if those soybeans have been standing under water for two or three days it's probably going to be a complete loss. And I've seen corn already having been planted that by this time should be up to my waist or my chest level, which right now is around my ankles.
So we know that we will have some severe losses and certainly some reductions in yields. And since the first of June we've already reduced our yield estimate by two times already.
Now, this affects us all because we know that this part of the country is extremely fruitful, if you will. This area of the country produces about $45 billion in annual agricultural yields. In this part of the country we grow twothirds of all of our corn and soybeans and a third of all of our wheat. So every American ought to be concerned about what we see and hear today.
We have responded. We are responding and we will continue to respond. President Clinton asked us to do two things -- do it quick and do it right. And we are doing that right now. In fact, the Director of FEMA and I have already done something I believe has never been done before. We have co-located offices. In addition to the FNS and the ASCS and the Farmers Home Office and the Crop Insurance Offices already existing, we in the USDA have a presence right now in every FEMA disaster assistance center.
So it's our goal to have a one-stop shop. And we are doing that.
I could go through individual state claim losses and all of that, Mr. President, but that certainly would go beyond my five minutes. Just simply let me say that we, through a multitude of programs, are able to offer immediate assistance on a short-term basis, on an intermediate basis, and on a long-term basis.
For instance, we can provide emergency food stamps. And already we've gotten claims from Illinois and Missouri to offer this. And when we receive the food stamp request, we can turn it around in the same day. Already in Illinois we've given out about $30,000 in food stamp value, and we'll continue to do that.
We have a number of homes in the Farmers Home program where we've declared a moratorium on mortgage repayments. We have a number of vacancies that we can make available to Mr. Witt and to the governors.
Within the disaster assistance avenue, I've talked to a number of members of Congress, senators and governors. We have done everything within our discretionary authority to give the farmers the kind of flexibility they need in this period of distress. We've done everything under statute except forgive the repayment of the advance deficiency payments. We cannot do that because we do not have the authority. But suffice to say, everything else from opening up the farmers' own reserve or giving extended time to repay loans, or anything like that we have done. And when we receive the resources incident to the disaster assistance package we can do a lot more.
It's our expectation to deliver the claims within two weeks. So with that, Mr. President, I'll just turn it over to you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
With regard to the co-location of offices, I also want to point out that FEMA has brought in 20 SBA specialists into the tele-registration center, and there are small business people who are now filling out the applications for aid by telephone. This is also something that has really been without precedent, particularly between the SBA and FEMA.
I'm neglected to introduce earlier in that regard the Director of the Small Business Administration Erskine Bowles from North Carolina, and also Congressman Talent. I apologize for that. We're glad to be -- and Governor Thompson, I introduced you before you got here, but we're glad to see you.
I'd like to now ask our host Governor, Governor Carnahan. We're go through a whole series of issues here. And if you don't feel something is adequately discussed, feel free to interject. But I think it's important that we try to stay on the agenda. And I'd like to ask Governor Carnahan to begin by discussing short-term emergency response and public assistance delivery.
GOVERNOR CARNAHAN: Thank you, Mr. President. As you saw coming down here today, we've got a loss of a magnitude that we don't understand; we've never seen before. As the Secretary said, there's many areas that expect flooding. But this has just been sustained. It's been higher and longer, coming from two directions in our case -- both the Mississippi and the Missouri. And so the resources are badly, badly taxed.
As much as we talk from the government side, as we'll do today, and we appreciate the opportunity to do that, we recognize that people are fighting, frankly, for their lives and their livelihoods because those are really turned upside down. And there's a huge volunteer work that's been going on and a self-help work that I'm sure we're committed to complementing.
I was in western Missouri at Mountain City yesterday, an area where the river is all the way of its --across its levies, and it goes from the hill country to the hill country, and at some places seven or eight miles wide like something you saw today.
And one of the county officials and I were talking that we were going to have this meeting today. And he said, well, if you have the chance, tell the President that when he comes to helping these farmers, see if you can't get over to some grant assistance. They've got more loans than they know what to do with. Says they'll take the loans if that's all there is, they'll take them. But I'm afraid they'll be in further trouble.
So any way that we could carve any of this relief, and I know that would be cutting new ground, it's not the way it's been done. But it is what is needed in order to really get these folks on their feet. And I know that may be part of the long-term part, but it's also the short-term. These people were totally without a crop, entirely wiped out. And their livelihood is just on hold and going backwards for the time being.
We'll also need some help in the recovery, on employment; dislocated workers; on waiving the cost-sharing requirements, that's going to over tax the ability of both states -- our state in particular and the local communities. And I know that that is being thought about. But that is going to be a priority for us.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Governor. A little later in the program, I'm going to ask the Secretary of Labor, Bob Reich, to talk about the dislocated worker issue. It is a major issue.
But before we move this topic, I'd like to ask General Williams from the Corps of Engineers if you have anything you want to say about the emergency work -- work to repair the public and private facilities and what you're doing to try to minimize the damage.
GENERAL WILLIAMS: Yes, sir, as Mr. Witt explained, we're working very closely with FEMA. And the Department of Defense has been co-located in FEMA in all their offices, both the national and the field level. There's two things that the Corps of Engineers is directly involved in right now during the flood fight. One is under our own Corps authorities, Public Law 84-99. And that's where we're out providing whatever assistance is being asked for by the states, both in the flood controls and also in providing supplies such as about 15 million sandbags, a couple hundred pumps. We've got about several thousand dollars invested in water supply. FEMA has directed us to do a water supply mission up in Des Moines. So we're supplying $2.4 million gallons of potable water per day. We're also involved in supplying other materials, such as pumps, plastic material to put on it -- on the levies. We're also involved in doing other technical assistance, engineering assistance, to those that need it. That's what's ongoing now. We also have a navigation problem. And we've been working very closely with the navigation industry and the other folks along the river. As you well know, the navigation is closed from Cairo north essentially. We do have locks one through 11 that are open in the upper Mississippi. And it's going to be a while before we get the rest of the locks opened down to the Cairo area.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you one quick follow-up question. When Governor Branstad and I were in Iowa the other day and we saw this vast lake that essentially went from Des Moines all the way to the Mississippi River. The kind of thing the Vice President was talking about there. And one of the people who was there with us said that we had to be very careful how we drained off this water in order not to aggravate the problems of the rivers being too high. Is that a serious issue?
GENERAL WILLIAMS: We have a situation -- if you're referring to dams that we have above Des Moines, Saylorville, for example, there are three primary reservoirs that the corps operates in Iowa. And those are the ones that have any significant impact on the upper Mississippi. All three of those dams are way above their flood pool stage. So we've tried to hold back the releases so that we don't increase any damage beyond what they've already had. And as soon as the crests are down through that area, we're going to have to start releasing water so that you don't continue to have those dams stressed and create additional problems.
So we're watching very carefully and trying to orchestrate the best you can the water levels both in the tributary streams and the main rivers.
THE PRESIDENT: With regard to the issue that Governor Carnahan raised, this is not exactly responsive, because you talked about farm losses. But I do think it's important to point out that FEMA does have a modest program to deal with personal losses of families. And I thought I'd let Mr. Witt just briefly state that again so people who have been wiped out of their homes or jobs and don't have anything would know about it. Would you just briefly say what it is.
MR. WITT: -- tell the farmer to go to the disaster application center and talk to one of the representatives, because if he lost personal items -- this one is -- if he had personal losses, he might be eligible for one of the grants that we have available for them.
THE PRESIDENT: I'd like to, if I might, move onto another issue, which affects more people in Iowa than any other place. But that's the lack of potable water. And I'd like to ask Governor Branstad to talk to us a little about that. this, I believe -- I live in a state that's been -- where I've seen whole little towns flooded out and gone. I don't believe there's been another time in my lifetime when so many Americans in one place have been without drinking water, bathing water, any kind of water as are the people who live in and around Des Moines. And I'd like for Governor Branstad to discuss how they're managing that and how they're dealing with the public health risks that are posed by that.
GOVERNOR BRANSTAD: Mr. President, first of all I want to thank you. I want to thank the Secretary of Agriculture and the Vice President and James Lee Witt. You all have been to Iowa, and we appreciate the tremendous help that we've received.
It has been a major challenge to try to provide drinking water to the 250,000 people that live in the Des Moines area. I received word 1:00 a.m. in the morning on Sunday morning, last Sunday, that it looked like the Des Moines Waterworks was going to go down. We were able to assemble all of our emergency people at the Emergency Management Headquarters. And by noon, we had a plan put together with the help of FEMA and the National Guard to distribute water. And within about less than 12 hours, we started in four points, and now we're up to about 100 places where we're delivering water. This was just drinking water. It doesn't provide water for showers or for toilets or for washing your clothes and all those other things.
Many of us were without, including the Governor's residence, were without electricity for a couple of days. We're still without water. We hope to have the Des Moines Waterworks plant up and in operation to be phased in starting on Monday. But that will still not be drinking water, that will just be for toilet facilities and for washing clothes and dishes and things like that.
We've gotten tremendous help from other states, too. I want to point out the North Dakota, Alabama, Arkansas and Ohio National Guard have all sent water purification material to us. And the result of that is, we're now serving the needs of the major hospitals in the Des Moines area. They really need more than just water carried in to serve the needs of their patients. That is being done in a coordinated effort. Companies like Anheuser Busch, many of the dairies and others have donated equipment to deliver water. That was -- getting the site set up is one thing, but then being able to get an adequate amount of drinking water to all those places.
They had tremendous volunteers. My father-in-law is a retired person -- for the last several days, he has a station wagon, and he takes water to the shut-ins, people that are handicapped or can't get out to the sites. You had a chance to see this personally when you visited Hy-Vee parking lot in the south side of Des Moines.
It's been a heartwarming thing to see that happen. But it is a tremendous hardship for the people. My family -- I married into a pretty nice family; and I have enough in-laws that live outside of Des Moines in Central Iowa that we can go there to get a shower every other day. We normally take a shower every day, but -- (laughter) -- we cut down here to try to conserve water.
But that's what people have done -- they've opened their homes and they've opened their shower facilities to help other people. But it has been a real challenge. And we're -- I guess what it underscores is a need to protect this, water facilities.
One of the concerns I've got, and I'd like to bring this issue up is we have lost water facilities. Many communities have lost their sewer facilities. We've got a tremendous amount of public roads and bridges out. And we sincerely ask that you waive the state and local match requirement on the federal disaster assistance programs of public assistance because I just don't see how we're going to be able to come up with the money to match it. That's one of the things that I would just encourage.
But we are very appreciative of the tremendous cooperation. We couldn't have done it without the help of FEMA and the National Guard from around the country. And then, of course, the army of volunteers. Incidentally, Iowa National Guard, over 2,100 on-duty, 24 hours a day at each of those water facilities to make sure that that is adequately controlled. But even then, the water that we're distributing, we're asking people to boil to be on the safe side.
THE PRESIDENT: I just want to throw out something - -- I don't need a response now, but I invite any of the governors who choose to respond. I spoke this morning to the people who are constantly on the air at that wonderful radio station in Quincy, Illinois, that's served as sort of the informal headquarters and information source for people on both sides of the river -- on this part of the flooding. And one of the things that -- they're by the way, broadcasting this whole hearing live. But one of the things that I was asked on the radio was whether or not the National Guard resources of the states were being stretched too thin, whether or not the Guardsmen and women were in need of some relief and whether I had thought of sending in any regular personnel.
Let me just say to all of the governors, we have no way of knowing what percentage of your National Guard force you have deployed to do this. But if you do feel you need some relief from resources outside the State Guard, I hope you will feel free to let me know, and we'll try to deal with that.
General Williams, did you have a question?
GENERAL WILLIAMS: I'd like to put a plug in the National Guard pickup on what you just said. According to the statistics that I have, you've got about 38 percent of your Army and Air National Guard in Illinois on active duty; about 15 percent of the same folks in Missouri; and about 32 percent in Iowa. So you've got about 7,300 Guard folks on active duty right now, doing different things and doing a tremendous job.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Could I add a point?
THE PRESIDENT: Sure.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, according to one report, some of them have decided on their own to take their sleeping bags out there, and they are sleeping right by the levee, and then getting up and going right back to work.
Is that correct, General?
GENERAL WILLIAMS: That's correct.
GOVERNOR BRANSTAD: I would like to say that I think there's been tremendous cooperation in my state. I have seen, for instance, at Eddyville, Iowa, a small community that's been fighting to protect itself and actually built their own levee to protect the city, and when I was there I saw National Guard trucks, DOT -- state DOT trucks, and private contractors and somebody that had donated clay off of property very close by, and they were feverishly building a dike system and protecting it. That community, with a coordinated effort, has been able to -- they've had to evacuate the community, but so far they've not been flooded out.
So there's a lot of those kinds of things that are going on, and it's an example of state, local, federal and private sector cooperation. In Iowa, we've had just tremendous volunteer assistance from the private sector. Also, the Red Cross has been wonderful. They've done some great things. They're there at, literally, hundreds of sites all across my state.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Before we move off the public health issues, I'd like to ask Secretary Shalala to comment about a number of issues. The obvious one is the water situation and with regard to potable water. But there are some other issues here. Are there any risks of disease from other flooded facilities -- waste water facilities or treatment facilities or flooded fields washing pesticides? Are there environmental risks there? What about the damage sustained that we are aware of by federally supported public health facilities? And so a lot of public health issues here, and I'd like for Secretary Shalala to just make whatever comments she'd like to make about that.
SECRETARY SHALALA: Thank you, Mr. President. As the Governor has indicated, this has been a team effort between federal agencies and the states, as well as among the federal agencies. When Iowa needed 50,000 syringes for inoculations, we stole them from the Department of Veterans Affairs and got them in very quickly, and worked out some problems that they had --for instance, getting access to vaccines.
But that demonstrates that we're cutting out the bureaucracy to get the job done. There are longer-term issues, and we have technical assistance teams already here in Iowa, working with the other states, working on the water and sewage issues, on the food and drug warehousing issues. But it's infectious diseases, it's the human as well as the diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other things that are going to impact. As the water goes down, it's going to require a multistate effort.
The mosquitoes unfortunately don't know which governor they belong to, and we're going to have to put sophisticated vector control systems in place. Iowa has one, but we're very concerned about the longer-term needs in the states related to infectious diseases.
In addition, there are mental health issues here, Mr. President. And as we talk about the long-term needs of this state, it's not going to be only jobs, but the impact of trauma on the communities and on individuals, on the kids. And already, we're working with the states to put mental health teams together, using the expertise in the states.
All of these states have very sophisticated public health departments and great academic medical centers and will be part of those teams to put strategies together to work on the longer-term issues.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. If I might just respond to two other issues Governor Branstad raised, first with regard to the National Guard. I don't know what this country would do without them. Anybody who has ever served as a governor knows that you literally couldn't function -- the governor's office could not function in most major problem areas without them.
The second thing with regard to your request for a waiver of the local match, I have asked James Lee Witt to --since he, obviously, had experience in his former life as the director of emergency services at the state level in our home state, to work with the governors on that and to try to make a reasoned judgment about what can and can't be done.
There is some precedent, as you know, for waiving all or part of the match. There's also a big precedent for the match. And we have to be very careful about how we handle this. Where there is a genuine problem we want to be responsive, but we want everybody to kind of work with us and work through the facts on it. And we will try to make a humane as well as a clearheaded decision.
I'd like to ask Governor Edgar from Illinois now to talk about the current situation in terms of its impact on the farmers. We've heard Mike Espy talk about it, but I think it would be helpful to have a governor of a great farm state just to start and discuss a little about how the impact is in Illinois.
GOVERNOR EDGAR: First, Mr. President, let me thank you and the Vice President and your administration for your presence here the last several days and your response. We appreciate it. And also I'd be remiss if I didn't just make a quick comment on the National Guard, because we have 3,500 on duty. And one of the things that would be very helpful, and since we have all the media here, is it's very important that their employers are understanding and realize they need to be on duty.
And also, I understand that we may lose some of our guards because they've got to go to summer camp. And I don't know the workings of the military, but I would think the flood duty ought to take precedent over summer camp. In fact, I think it ought to take the place of summer camp. So, again, I would hope that maybe they'll get credit for being out there helping the citizens and maybe not have to then go to summer camp and have their employers even more frustrated down the road.
Also, I've got to echo what Terry Branstad said about the match. We've got local governments that have been fighting floods since March and April. This isn't something that just happened in June and July. And everybody is strapped beyond their financial capacity so that's going to be a very important area.
Agriculture in our state is very important. And to date, they've probably have had the brunt of this disaster, though we're still less than halfway through Illinois with the flood. A lot can change in the next few days, but we've seen some of our best farmland go under water and that means we're not going to have a crop this year, and there may not be a crop for several years, because nobody knows how long it's going to take to get the land back in shape.
We're still fighting a major battle, as I'm sure they are in Missouri and other places, on these levies that affect hundreds of thousands of acres of prime farmland. In fact, as we speak, probably the biggest battle in our state is south of Quincy -- where we have several thousand National Guard troops as well as inmates from our prisons, thousands of volunteers trying to save a 50-million levy.
And so it's still hard to say just how devastating this disaster is going to be on agriculture, but it will be. And it's very important that we can get as many waivers from the department, put off deadlines for loans. Particularly, long-term we're going to need help on soil conservation, going back in and trying to redo some of the things that were in placed that have been destroyed by the floods.
Infrastructure has a major impact on the farming community. When I was getting ready to come down, my notes -- we had only had five of our 28 bridges across from the Mississippi working. as you know, we now are down to four after what happened in Quincy last night. The infrastructure, which is important to everyone, it's particularly critical to the agriculture community to be able to move their products. The impact on barge traffic is going to be profound. I don't think anyone has really probably really zeroed in on that yet. That's going to cost our agriculture community millions. And so we are facing an extremely serious problem, our agriculture community. And it's one that the federal government can be of great assistance in.
I appreciate the Secretary's visits to the midwest, and I'm sure this won't be his last. But it is going to be particularly important that you do everything you can to set aside some of the rules and regulations that could hinder us in our efforts, first of all, to try to save what we have, and more importantly, to get back on our feet.
THE PRESIDENT: Secretary Espy, do you want to respond to that?
SECRETARY ESPY: Yes, sir. I can respond very quickly. In cases where you have a total loss, as you mentioned in Illinois, within the legislation, the disaster bill which we expect will be approved, when farmers in Illinois consider that they've had a total loss or they've been prevented from planting, they can come into the ASCS office. And again, we have a presence at every FEMA disaster assistance center. And we believe that we can get them a check in about a two-week period.
Now, for those farmers that have yield reductions, of course, we would have to wait until it's harvested to see what the loss is going to be. But when you have a complete loss, you've been prevented from planting, we believe that we can -- we have the form in the computer already and we can kick out a check.
Secondly, you asked about flexibility. As I said in my opening comment, I believe under the discretionary authority, both from the presidential level and the secretary level, we've done everything possible under the statute to allow farmers the greatest degree of flexibility. Now, we've reopened the Farmers Home Reserve. We've made the zero-92 program available. We've pushed back these sign-up dates. We've done just about everything except what most farmers asked in my first trip --that we give these advanced deficiency payments. We can't do it. We can delay -- we can push off for a considerable period of time, but we can't forgive it because, under the statute we simply can't do it. If it's changed, then, of course, we can.
And lastly, Mr. President, this brings up a new point, because as I look at the Illinois figures, about 26.9 percent of the farmers in Illinois have crop insurance. Now, that may seem like a low level to those unfamiliar with it, but as you know, that's pretty average. Many farmers have not signed up for crop insurance because they're dissatisfied with the program. They think the premiums are too high for the coverage that they'll receive.
We've noticed in our visits out here that we have some glaring errors and some problems in crop insurance. There's no preventive planning feature. There's no catastrophic feature. And the President has asked us to reform crop insurance. And we're getting right on the job to do it. Under flexibility, we've done just about everything possible. And we'll continue to review the situation.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me say, if you have any other specific suggestions on this, this is an important issue that Governor Edgar has raised and that Secretary has responded to. As we look at the crop insurance reformation issue, if there are other areas of flexibility you believe ought to be given to the Secretary of Agriculture to help deal with this and subsequent crises, it's very important that you get them to us now while the Congress is focused on this issue.
GOVERNOR BRANSTAD: Mr. President, first of all, I want to say that Secretary Espy has been very responsive. He just recently authorized haying and grazing on a county-by-county basis. This is really important to a lot of our cattlemen, livestock producers. And in terms of flexibility, the Secretary of Agriculture has done an outstanding job.
My biggest concern is that the funding that's in the disaster assistance package is not adequate for farmers. Back during the drought in '88, the midwestern governors worked together with the administration at that time in fashioning a relief package that was about 50 cents on the dollar. It's my understanding that farmers that have a total loss are only going to get 20-some cents on the dollar, and that just isn't enough.
What's going to need to be -- and it needs to be targeted to the ones that are hit the hardest. And we know that it can't make them whole, but it needs to be more like 50 cents on the dollar than 20 cents on the dollar. That's our biggest concern, that the funding in the disaster assistance package specifically for farmers is going to have to be increased in order that they're able to meet their obligations and not be forced out of business.
But the Secretary, I think, has done an outstanding job, and I think he's aware of this concern that we've got. That's our -- I think Governor Carlson has the same concern that I do, and we're concerned about -- and as I understand, where this reduction came from is from the bill that was passed in '92. There wasn't enough funding to handle all of it, so they cut it by 50 percent. So what they do is they factor it all in and then they cut it by 50 percent. And that additional 50-percent reduction takes it down from just less than 50 cents on the dollar to being like 22 or 24 cents on the dollar. That I don't think is going to be enough to help these farmers that are the hardest hit.
THE PRESIDENT: Senator Bond and Congressman Gephardt, the administration, I think, in 1992 presented a revised downward formula. It used to be two-thirds of twothirds, didn't it, something like that? And it was revised downward because of the magnitude of the losses in Andrew and the side problem with the deficit -- is that right? I wasn't here so I don't know.
SENATOR BOND: Mr. President, in the 1990 farm bill we authorized a very complicated formula for people with crop insurance. It was essentially 65 percent of 65 percent. As a result of OMB actions during some of the disasters, they cut that -- what is effectively 42 percent by a half, and thus, the proposal is about 21 cents on the dollar. We had a chance to discuss and several of the members of Congress discussed with you our strong desire and our hope that OMB and you will support and we can encourage Congress not to cut that 42 percent in half, because for most farmers that represents their out-of-pocket costs of feed, fertilizer and fuel to put the crop in.
THE PRESIDENT: We're going to review that. We presented that under the terms of -- the same thing that happened with Hurricane Andrew. And I, frankly, was not even aware of it being a problem until the congressmen from the affected states brought it up to me in large numbers and on a bipartisan basis yesterday at our big meeting. And so we're going to review that.
GOVERNOR BRANSTAD: Mr. President, thank you. We appreciate that because that is a big issue. These farmers just need to cover their costs so that they're not forced out of business, so they've got another chance next year. They're optimists if they're given a chance.
THE PRESIDENT: I think it's very important that even under the formula adopted in 1990 everyone understands, we don't hold -- it's not a question of whether you're holding people harmless, but whether you're at least giving them enough help to have a fair chance so that they'll be able to continue in farming.
Let me just mention two other things quite quickly. I got a note on this local match issue. Secretary Shalala sent up a note that said we need to get rid of the state match on VETRA control so we can quickly put in a multistate strategy on mosquitoes. (Laughter.) If we have time I'll tell you a story one time when I gave a speech when a swarm of mosquitoes came up in a rice field. The speech lasted 20 seconds and I never lost the county again. (Laughter.)
Anyway, I also -- I could have used that swarm of mosquitoes in later points in my life. (Laughter.)
I want to say one other thing. Yesterday, Congressman Harold Volkmer, who is not here today, told me about an incident involving FEMA and state emergency people that affects environmental and health issues that I thought I should repeat in the event that it happens to any of you, so you know that this capacity is there.
There was a pesticide and herbicide storage area at Hannibal, Missouri, that was threatened. And immediately FEMA and the state emergency people were able to put divers into the area, and the divers actually helped to shore up the area and keep that from being threatened. If that storage area had been overrun, obviously, you would have had a huge amount of very toxic materials not very much diluted, exposed -- to which people would have been exposed. So I think it's important that we try to identify that.
Every time I fly over one of these sewage treatment facilities or something else where there's water all around it, I just get the willies thinking about what could happen. And I think that it's important to know that we do have this dive capability. And if something like that you think might happen, you need to call FEMA to try to put together a dive team and a reinforcement team so that we avert those kinds of possibilities.
I'd like now to talk about individual assistance and small business assistance. And I'd like to ask Governor Thompson of Wisconsin to talk about it. The worst of his flooding, we hope, is behind us, although after the Vice President's weather forecast today, I'm not sure. But we hope that it's true. And as people begin to look about getting back on their feet, I'd be interested in knowing how you think this assistance program is working; how adequate is it; what's your assessment of both the individual and the SBA programs.
GOVERNOR THOMPSON: Thank you very much, Mr. President. And let me echo what all the other governors have said, that we congratulate you and commend you for your leadership, your attention to our states and to this whole region.
It's too bad it takes a disaster to bring everybody from local, state and the federal government together on a bipartisan basis. But this certainly is government at its finest. And I congratulate and commend all of you for doing it. I also would have to specifically say that you've got a keeper in James Lee Witt. He spent July 4th weekend with me touring some very serious disaster areas on an individual basis. And FEMA, James and Phil Zaparapolos are doing an excellent job of getting out and seeing the people and working with the state of Wisconsin, and I'm sure with all the states in regards to that.
The state of Wisconsin is, I think, Mr. President, if we don't get any more rain and if we don't get the mosquitoes coming from Minnesota and Iowa, we will be okay -- Secretary Shalala's concerned about. But we have had, Mr. President, six presidential disasters since 1990 in Wisconsin. And it's six in the last three years. And our farmers and our small rural communities have been hit so hard that we really have a very difficult time borrowing anymore money. And I'm sure you've heard this before.
But even though we are somewhat beyond the worst part of the flooding right now with the Mississippi going down in to the other states, we still have a difficult time rebuilding, replanting and getting any type of crops in for the fall. Onefifth of the cropland in the state of Wisconsin is damaged in regards to the flooding. It's not only the flooding but the freeze out and some other things that have adversely affected agriculture in the state of Wisconsin. Our farmers in the state of Wisconsin, I'm sure, is the same as the farmers in the whole region, cannot take another loan, another to the Wisconsin farmers is the same thing as telling them that there's no help at all.
And I know how serious the federal deficit is and how serious it is, but I have to echo also what the governors are saying, that a state match of 25 percent is very difficult as you know when you were governor.
But overall, the individual assistance and service from FEMA, from the Red Cross, from the Army Corps of Engineers, has been exceptional. I would like to compliment all of those individuals. What we need now from SBA and from the Department of Agriculture, especially the Department of Agriculture for Wisconsin, is to free up the CRP land on a statewide basis if it's at all possible, instead of on an individual county basis. With 20 percent of the farmland in the state of Wisconsin adversely affected, we need a statewide release in order to allow for the flexibility.
In regards to the SBA, we've got small, rural communities that we on-site investigation, on-site response from SBA in order to help small communities, small businesses that have been flooded out in order to get back on their feet.
It's a disaster. It's a disaster in Wisconsin. It's a disaster in the whole region. I compliment you as President for being here today, on a Saturday, for taking our concerns to heart. And hopefully we can continue to work together to come out of this so that we can rebuild the whole region. But we do have serious problems. And all I can say is, it's a long-term effort. It's not a short-term effort. We are rebuilding with the National Guard and with our other individual services in our state. But as from the federal government, we need as much help as we possibly can, as much flexibility, and more grants than loans because our farmers in the last three years could not take another loan and be able to in any way be able to repay it.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I'd like to ask the SBA Director, Erskine Bowles, to comment briefly on the SBA programs and how they're being implemented here.
MR. BOWLES: Mr. President, let me first of all thank you for bringing us here. I think when you have a chance to see the magnitude of this disaster on the television, it helps you focus on it. But when you actually come here, it truly brings it into your heart. So I thank you for bringing us.
The SBA provides long-term, low-interest rate loans to the victims of a disaster who have either suffered some kind of physical damage to their home or to their business, or have suffered an economic injury to their business.
Our loans generally have maturities up to 30 years. And we will match the maturity with the borrower's ability to pay. And the loans carry an interest rate in most cases of 4 percent.
For physical damages to homes, we will lend up to $100,000 for the home itself, and $20,000 for personal property. For physical damage to a business of any size, not necessarily a small business, but any size, we will lend up to $500,000. However, if that business is a major employer, we can waive that limit and lend any amount. If a business has suffered an economic loss, we can also lend up to $500,000.
We are on-site in every single disaster assistance center in every single state. Governor Thompson, we will be to the rural communities. We will come as soon as the -- are open. We will be there. And I promise you, we will stay until the job is done.
MR. MCLARTY: Well, I think just picking up on that, Secretary Espy and I were just visiting the farmers home and the rural development assistance program also has direct business loans to farmers to complement and supplement it and to work closely with the SBA on that.
MR. BOWLES: -- working relationship with Dr. Witt, with Secretary Espy, with the folks from the Transportation Department. I think we're prepared. We're working in a coordinated manner. And we are getting the job done. In fact, we delivered some checks today.
MR. MCLARTY: That's the way it's supposed to be.
THE PRESIDENT: You delivered some checks today, is that what you said?
MR. BOWLES: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Believe it or not, we're almost back on schedule. Before I move away from the short-term to the longterm issues, I think it would be a mistake not to at least acknowledge the efforts of the private volunteers, the people who came on their own, the people from the Salvation Army. I saw a lot of Salvation Army people in Iowa, and I was deeply moved by them. They even showed up, some of them in their uniforms. I couldn't believe they could bear to work in their uniforms as hot and difficult as it was. And, of course, the Red Cross, where I think the -- Governor Branstad, the largest employer in your state, gave, I think, $100,000 to the Red Cross while I was there to do their work.
Since Mrs. Dole is here, I thought, if there's any comment you'd like to make about the volunteer efforts -- what we're doing, where we're going, we'd be glad to hear from you. And I think it might be nice if you came down and sat in Senator Wellstone's chair, and then we'll take a picture of you there with his name and send it to the Senator Minority Leader for his -- (laughter). There's a certain sweet irony there -- my photographer to take a picture of Senator Wellstone as she speaks.
MS. DOLE: Well, thank you, Mr. President. And, again, I want to congratulate you and the administration for this meeting today, which I think is an excellent idea.
This is my fourth trip to the flood area. And I appreciate the opportunity to come today and to be a part of this meeting. And what has impressed me time and time again is the spirit of the people in this area. It's really incredible. Some who have been victims, not just once, but twice, in Iowa -- Governor Branstad, you were just coming out of the flood of April and many people are victims a second time. And people come in off of the street to volunteer, just to want to give their time and energy and work around the clock. And it's a beautiful thing to see. And many -- have lost everything they have.
One gentleman from Missouri is 76 years old. His cabin was under water. He's a 30 year volunteer with the fire department. But he's in there helping every day as a volunteer to protect his neighbors, hopefully, so that they won't have the same fate that he's had. And he told me he wants to be a Red Cross volunteer, and we'll welcome him with open arms.
But I've seen so many examples of that. And,you know, it's heartrending when you fly over the area or you go out to the levies, you see what's happening. I was in Grafton, Illinois, and we had to take a boat to get to our Red Cross shelter and duck under the power lines -- just heartrending. And yet that spirit is incredible, neighbor helping neighbor, and all the volunteers who have poured out to be a part of the team.
And in Des Moines, out on the bridge there, Fleur Avenue, about 1,000 people filling those sandbags, passing those sandbags into the trucks. So it's an experience that's been very, very inspiring to me because of the spirit of these volunteers. And so I just say heartfelt thanks to them. And they're doing a tremendous job.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I also think it's fair to say, though, that all those volunteers have to be coordinated. And we really appreciate the work that's been done there.
James Lee, did you want to say something about that?
MR. WITT: Mr. President, I -- to say that -- to Ms. Dole that every state that I have been in, every disaster center that I went to, even in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, with Governor Thompson, I stopped by the Red Cross Center there in Black River Falls, and they were just working their hearts out. And you don't know how much we appreciate what the Red Cross does supporting us at FEMA and all the other volunteer organizations.
When I was down in Florida looking at that area, it was unbelievable what work the volunteers had done. So we appreciate you very much.
MS. DOLE: Thanks very much.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'd like to add that FEMA has the ability to help coordinate donated goods. And I think, if I'm not mistaken, at least one state has put in a specific request -- Governor Branstad did and some of the others may want to think about that, because in south Florida, that turned out to be quite a problem. There were more donated goods than people could handle. And FEMa has some expertise in helping to organize that.
GOVERNOR BRANSTAD: Let me just give you a testimonial. Governor Chiles personally called me and the Florida people have sent their software that they developed in response to all the donated goods. And FEMA has been working very closely with Alan Gordon, our Director of Emergency Management, in trying to handle this. We've got an outpouring of -- this says how caring the American people are. Governors from all over have called. We've gotten all kinds of donations from private individuals. And we are encouraging people to make cash contributions to groups like the Red Cross and Salvation Army that do some really good. But we are also trying to manage the individual goods that are sent into make sure they get to the right place. And the FEMA people are very, very helpful in that. So I would encourage the other states that have similar situations to follow that example. I think we can learn a lot from the problems that they ran into in Florida.
THE PRESIDENT: I'd also -- since we're talking about this, I want to get in a plug for my pet project. Some of our national service volunteers this summer have come to the flooding areas and are working as volunteers. And Senator Durenburger and Congressman Vento from Minnesota have suggested that we actually have a little modest appropriation to get some more of the these young people who are in the national service program just physically to the affected states. So I'm -- Bruce, you might want to say a word about that, but I really --
REPRESENTATIVE VENTO: The Commission on National and Community Service is set up and ready to go. We did an assessment in the Midwest. We have a conservation corps in Minnesota, an outstanding one. And in Wisconsin and in Iowa there is a chapter in Kansas City Missouri. But in any case, other corps across the country and/or nonprofit groups such as, of course, the American Red Cross and others, could put together programs quickly, I think, to employ young Americans that want to be formally involved in the cleanup and the other tasks in a short time frame, and I think make a real contribution to the cleanup process. And so I'm heartened by your response to that and the bipartisan support that's engendered. It's a great idea.
Yesterday, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the CCC. And Mr. Chairman, we talked about the 60 or 85-year-old CCC boys. And what we'd like to do is have a few CCC girls, I might say, as well as boys and to try to recapture that spirit that you're pursuing in the national service program.
We've got a chance now to use it, to implement it with state programs and to build some momentum and let these young people participate. So I'm encouraged by your response and appreciate your support for that and interest.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Mr. Minge, did you want to say something?
REPRESENTATIVE MINGE: There are a couple of things I'd like to mention, Mr. President. One is that we've had, as has been indicated earlier, several years of bad economic conditions in the agricultural areas. And one critical thing to realize from the map that was shown of that new great lake, is that new great lake did not just develop in 1993. That's been building. And that's an indication of the severity of the economic distress that's felt in the region where that great lake is.
And it plays out with respect to banking and financing, because we face a situation where creditors are going to be examined by bank examiners, and there are going to be banking standards that are applied to these loans. And we're going to find that many banks are going to feel they're forced top foreclose or to sell people out.
So one thing that we need to do is to look at the banking regulations and maybe even the laws to grant some relief and exceptions in this area. And it's particularly important with respect to farmers in the midwest. And building on this, I'm really pleased at the reforms that are occurring in federal crop insurance that are being discussed. But one condition of some of the agricultural aid is that federal crop insurance be purchased next year. And not knowing a federal crop insurance will be reformed within the next year, we're asking people to buy into a program, which we're all agreeing, is a bad program. And that's kind of a bad deal to be in, too.
And finally, I'd like to say that in the Midwest we're facing another problem, and that is with respect to corn, which is our primary cash crop. In the federal programs, there's a deep discount off of the actual yields because the USDA yields take us back to the 1970s. And as a consequence, the disaster assistance for farmers who are growing corn is discounted many more -- is discounted even deeper than what's been discussed. And I think that if we can move towards use of actual yields, it will greatly help us.
And I've just tried to calculate what this does to agricultural assistance for farmers. We've talked about the 21 percent. It actually brings it down, like, to 16 or 17 percent. And if you only lost 50 percent of your crop, it brings the aid down to eight percent. So we need -- when you see how low it can be if you use that 50 percent reduction, it really makes the program woefully inadequate.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. As I said, we do intend to review the agricultural rules. Let me comment very briefly on the bank loan issue. Along with a number of other farm state governors, back in the mid-'80s we had a meeting in Chicago -- I never will forget this -- Governor Edgar's predecessor hosted it, and we tried to work through reform in the farm financing system.
Congress acted on that -- substantially what we recommended, but it was four years later and 255,000 farmers later. But I believe now -- I believe that the regulators have the authority to give the banks the flexibility to do what you suggest, but I will check to make sure.
REPRESENTATIVE MINGE: One thing I'd like to add is that you're absolutely right. I sit in Congress for the first time; it's a new experience for me. But I found that Majority Leader Gephardt, Speaker Foley and others have been very supportive of the administration. And I think that for many of us in Congress, we're looking to the administration for leadership. And just as an example, I have a bill in to relief farmers of having to pay the advance deficiency payments.
Well, we'd like to know, how does that impact on the budget. And if the administration says this is the type of thing that it supports, I think that Congress will move quickly to support the administration, but we need to hear from the various departments and so on. This is something that they're ready to support and have us do.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me make one other comment on the crop insurance issue. There are deficiencies in the crop insurance program for the catastrophic losses. The main problem we've got in this instance is that this flood occurred a heck of a lot further north on the Mississippi than floods normally occur. And by the time the land drains off, it'll be too late to plant soybeans. I mean, that's the main problem we've got. So unless you sort of threw the beans in the ground to create a fiction, you know a falsehood to claim your crop insurance, you can't cover it. That does not mean that, at least I could, in good conscience, to ever advice any farmer not to ever buy crop insurance. It does do some good, and I do think that, in effect, the preference in the law for people who have some insurance is a pretty good thing, still, but we do need to drastically reform the crop insurance program.
REPRESENTATIVE MINGE: Could I just make a relevant comment? We've talked about the yield, the necessity of updating the yield information. We've talked about modifying the prorate, and I'm sure that these conversations will continue. But most Americans, I'm sure, are looking on and wondering about the cost of a lot of these farm programs. I know I've heard it as I've traveled in the upper Midwest. And, honestly, if there's any kind of a silver lining to this cloud at all, it is the fact that the cost of the farm programs will be reduced. And it's going to be reduced based on just a general economic argument. Because as these supplies go down, the price impact goes up. And because if the price impact goes up, then the cost of the farm programs go down.
Let me repeat it once more: For every $10 increase in bushel of corn, there's an associated $500-million reduction in the cost of the farm programs. So we may be talking about spending a little bit more here, but in the final analysis as it all washes out, there's going to be a tremendous reduction in the cost of the farm programs.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I want to move on, if I might and talk about -- he meant ten cents, Jim -- I want to move on to discuss, if I might, some of the long-term issues here and ask Governor Miller of South Dakota to begin by just discussing the impact of the flood on jobs. That will take us back to the job training remark made by Governor Carnahan at the end of his remarks.
But I'd like for Governor Miller to talk a little bit about the job impact of this flood.
GOVERNOR MILLER: Thank you, Mr. President. And we're again, very appreciative that you were able to come here today and we want to thank you for the time that you have allotted to the people of your staff. I appreciate Secretary Espy coming to South Dakota a week or two ago. And had a conversation with the Vice President, so we echo what everyone has said with regard to your concern to this situation.
South Dakota is one of the smaller states, one of the ones that are farther west. I'd just like to briefly indicate to you the impact of this disaster in the state of South Dakota. On July 15th, I sent a request to you, indicating the preliminary damage in the state of South Dakota, $596 million, which is equal to or a little above the general expenditure of the state of South Dakota for the fiscal year we're in, so you can see the magnitude of the impact upon this small state.
Forty-one counties are affected, and have ag designations. We've asked for 17 presidential disaster declarations, and the population of those 17 counties is 271,000 which is 40 percent of the total population of the state of South Dakota. It's estimated by the director of the ASES office that probably only about 33 percent of the corn will ever develop in the state. There's about a third of it that is -- two-thirds of it is planted, but half of that is not any good, won't develop, and so we're going to expect about a third of a crop of the beans. It's worse than that, about 25 percent -- we have had a disaster upon the homes and upon the roads and the public facilities in the state in a manner in which we haven't experienced for a good long time.
Certainly, in an area where we have 40 percent of the population impacted, there's going to be a lot of people that are going to be unemployed and need assistance.
I was advised in previous years when disasters have occurred that are generally liberalized with regard to -- including farmers who are not usually covered under these selfemployment rules, and so that might be one thing that we could continue to look at.
One of the other things dealing with the counties -- I'm beginning to receive requests of the impact upon the county tax base. The land is going to be out of production, the local taxes won't be paid. There's a request coming into the counties to abate these taxes. They're running into a lot of situations in our state, at least, with landfill problems, or maybe there could be some environmental -- relaxation on the environmental regulations due to solid waste landfills to cities they're trying to take care of, because it's going to have to be cleaned up and deposited someplace.
There, without a doubt is, in our state, a great impact. Sioux Falls, South Dakota has been designated by the Federal Reserve system as picked out as the city within the flood area as having the greatest economic impact of any city, probably because it's located in the southeast corner of South Dakota, but also has a great trade area to the state of Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota.
So we have a tremendous impact upon the agricultural entity of this state, upon the employment of the state since we have a major portion of our population impacted. And anything you can to do improve that, of course, is going to be appreciated. We understand the constraints of your budgetary matters today, but we appreciate you being here and listening to us, and we look forward to working with you, and thank you for all of the effort you have extended to us.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Mr. Bowles has already discussed the SBA programs which would be relevant here. And the Secretary of Agriculture has talked about the farm programs a little. I'd like to ask the Secretary of Labor, Bob Reich to talk about the job training elements of this issue.
SECRETARY REICH: Mr. President, there are -- we've made sure that farmers and people who are self-employed who would not otherwise qualify for unemployment insurance are eligible for disaster unemployment insurance. And this disaster unemployment insurance is available for 26 weeks; it is going to be available immediately; and unemployed people who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance because they are self-employed or because they are farmers can report to the FEMA centers and get emergency disaster unemployment insurance.
The second thing, Mr. President and Governors, is that we've made sure that there is available money for jobs for people who don't have jobs but who want -- who need jobs and especially people who are involved in the clean-up. In other words, if you don't have a job right now, if you are dislocated by the flood -- and, you know, what better way to get a job than by helping out in the clean-up efforts. So that there is money available for that right now. And we received, in fact, after some discussions with several states just yesterday -- from five states applications for this kind of relief for dislocated workers to help in clean-up activities and we have a kind of down payment on that money right now.
For Iowa, we have about $2.5 million dollars. Hopefully we going to get about $15 million. For Minnesota, $1 million -- in fact, why don't I -- rather than be bureaucratic about it, I'm just going to pass these out. I'll just pass out the money. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: That's good.
SECRETARY REICH: Why shouldn't I just pass the money out. I got the money, why don't I just pass it out. Here it is for Iowa. We processed these in 24 hours. For Iowa, Governor Branstad, here you go. Governor Carlson, there's a million.
THE PRESIDENT: You're the only guy in my administration with any money. How can you do that?
SECRETARY REICH: Governor Carnahan of Missouri, we've got $2 million. That the down payment -- you don't have to get up, we'll just pass it around here. (Laughter.) Don't lose it on the way, though. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY REICH: Oh, thanks, thank you very -- I'll get up for that.
And by the way, these were just applications received yesterday. For Governor Edgar of Illinois, we've got $2 million out of, hopefully, an additional $10 million we can give you. And also Governor Miller of South Dakota, we have a half million out of $3.4 million. This is the down payment here. Other governors, we are processing these applications as fast as possible. And we should be able to get some additional help to you early next week. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Governor Schafer.
GOVERNOR SCHAFER: Excuse me, but I would like to follow up on the disaster unemployment assistance program --
THE PRESIDENT: It is important.
GOVERNOR SCHAFER: -- because it does seem as if the federal rules in this area are very restrictive as far as farmers and self-employed. It's not clear -- the rules are restrictive in the DUA program. As so I do believe we do need some clarification there and hopefully and definitely in the field offices some knowledge about how that program does work.
SECRETARY REICH: -- should be available 26 weeks now. The one problem is that there is not extended unemployment insurance that would be available under the normal unemployment insurance program. But there is available 26 weeks and every state's unemployment insurance level will be slightly different.
With regard to the self-employed and with regard to farmers, it based on net earnings for the year. But as its ratio of net earnings rather than wages as it would be with normal unemployment insurance. But I'll make sure that there are clarifications and that it is the most liberal possible interpretation.
THE PRESIDENT: I think that's important. Terry's going to say something, but when I was in Iowa the other day, it's a very interesting that you discussed this because I had -- there are a lot of -- more people than you would think affected by this who aren't in the normal unemployment insurance pool. And I had two or three people come up to me just when I was in Des Moines to talk about it.
Terry, what were you going to say?
GOVERNOR BRANSTAD: This includes the employers like small business. One of our biggest concerns is, we literally have thousands of businesses that are temporarily out of business right now. In the city of Des Moines, the Mayor has signed an Executive Order basically saying that businesses don't operate. So we have in our capital city -- and I was in Coralville* which is a suburb of Iowa City yesterday, there was over 100 businesses that are flooded out there presently. And the Coralville Reservoir is still going over the emergency spillway, so they're going to be out of business for some time. And so I want to make sure this includes the employers, the owners of those small businesses as well as employees.
The other concern that these small businesses have is even with the SPA programs and with the loans they already have, the one other shortcomings I see -- we have the individual assistance grants if we're able to get additional funding for farmers -- better than the 21 cents on the dollar -- that could help them get through. But these businesses, some of them are just not going to be -- they just don't feet they can afford to go out and borrow another $100,000 to try to get back into business. Is there a way that we can fashion a program? I don't think there is one today that would provide some grants to those people whose businesses are wiped out, where their businesses are interrupted, where they need to have to rebuild that without doing it strictly by loans.
That is one of the shortcomings I think we have, is we don't have any grant program that can help. And I have, and the President saw -- in that, both the Des Moines and Raccoon River valleys literally industries, big industries, small businesses that were flooded out -- and we have that in small and large communities all across my state. And I'm sure that's true in a lot of the other states represented here.
THE PRESIDENT: Given the -- no one has ever mentioned this to me and so, you know. When you get to be President, you're supposed to never say anything off the top of you head. That's what -- but given the problems we've got with the budget and the difficulty of dealing with that issue, I think it would be virtually impossible that the Congress would adopt any new program in that regard.
The one thing I would ask the governors to consider among yourselves about this is whether or not you would want to ask us, the federal government and the Congress, for some sort of modification of the law effecting how you can invest your community development block grant funds for a year or so because that's something that -- I mean, I know that that program is not real popular with every member of Congress, but it's real popular with me because I was a governor. And I know how much good it can do and I think there's very little -- at least in my state there was very little waste in it.
But I think that if you have the flexibility to allocate some of that money to job creation, of job preservation under emergency situations for a year or two, that might make a significant difference. So let me just suggest that that's something you all might want to put your heads together about and get back to us on.
Ron, what were you going to say? Secretary Brown.
SECRETARY BROWN: Mr. President, might I suggest that there might be some opportunities in the economic development administration of the Commerce Department. I know that we've spent a good deal of time talking about short-term kind of crisis response which is clearly very important I know that we spent a good deal of time talking about a shortterm kind of crisis response, which is clearly very important. But I think the Governor's question clearly makes it known that there's some long-term economic consequences to this disaster. And we also need to be doing some long-term planning.
As far as the short-term is concerned, we can directly hire individuals to come in and work on cleanup through the Economic Development Administration, including rebuilding or building of levies. We can also provide grants for disaster coordinators.
But I think more importantly in the long-term, we can provide economic development planning grants, because we've got to get whole communities that are distressed because of this disaster back on their feet. That can include the building or rebuilding of facilities. But most important, when you have this kind of disaster, unless you put together a long-term economic development plan, you're not going to have an approach that really bears fruit. It can't be done piecemeal. And we do have resources in order to provide that kind of planning money.
I know, just as the rest of my colleagues in the Cabinet and other federal agencies, I intend to assure that the response of the Commerce Department is both swift and effective. And the devastation that we have seen this morning requires absolutely no less.
I think what we see here today is once again a real redefinition of relationships in America. Relationships between and among departments of the federal government too often in the past have been pulling in opposite directions rather than working as part of the same team. A new relationship between federal government, state, local and county government, which is crucial in these disasters, and I think a new relationship between the public and private sector, because we're going to have to have some private sector help to recover economically as well, including voluntary organizations like the Red Cross.
But I think the opportunity is there for us to demonstrate that we can meet these disasters head on and have impact both in the short and long-term.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just follow up on that very briefly and say that I think that that is very good. I'd like to ask you to examine what you -- given the specific questions you've heard today -- what you think the ADA could do and the Department of Commerce. And at the end of the session here, I want to talk a little about long-term planning. And I think that you should really work with the Secretary of Agriculture to make sure that they have available the resources of Commerce to develop this kind of economic plan.
And meanwhile, I think the governors ought to look at this community development block grant option. I think it's got some legs. And I don't know, but Des Moines may get CDBG directly -- does it? It may be of sufficient size to get it. So that would also be quite helpful there.
I'll call on Bruce Vento, and then we've got to go. We're getting behind.
REPRESENTATIVE VENTO: Mr. President, I think that -- I'm encouraged by the statements of extending the special unemployment for self-employed in the disaster, but what I'm concerned about as well -- and I've written to you about this in a letter -- but I think the other members would be -- that many of the jobs that are related to agriculture are now in urban areas. They are the barge operators, they are the truck drivers, the teamsters, the rail, the food processing -- all those jobs in the midwest will be adversely impacted.
While they can, and are granted, 26 weeks of unemployment if they have the work record that justifies that, very often they are seasonally unemployed and we'll be feeling these effects for a long time.
I might also add a word about some of the migrant workers, for instance, in the Red River Valley and some of the other areas that have been working just a fraction, maybe 15 or 20 percent of the time. So I want to underline the importance of the other types of assistance programs we have. These are the people that are really living on the margin that fall and slip into the assistance needs on a country or statewide basis into the Medicaid system or Medicare system -- Medicaid system, and we have to meet those needs.
So it really translates into some other problems. I've talked to Secretary Reich about these categories of workers, and we should find the means to designate those and provide the assistance that they need, because they are going to need -- the ramifications of this are quite severe and I think in meeting the needs we want to respond to that. And I hope that I'll get some response back on that either today or later as we move forward with this assistance program.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
We have a few other topics I think it's really important that we cover today -- shipping and commerce, housing and infrastructure for sure. I'd like to ask Governor Carlson and Governor Schaffer to comment on the issues of shipping and commerce -- the impact of the flood on shipping and commerce over the long run.
GOVERNOR CARLSON: Well, again, Mr. President, I want to thank you very much for bringing together this meeting, and I want to thank your people for all of the cooperation and the coordination. Because, like so many other states, our disaster started some time back, and from the very, very first day the cooperation with FEMA, the Department of Agriculture has been absolutely extraordinary.
What I wanted to focus on, if I may, is not necessarily to give you a litany of the extent of our disaster, but focus on the questions that you raised, which is, one, what is really the long-term impact? How can we take this disaster and turn it, frankly, into an asset so that 15 years from now people can look back and say, in 1993 there was leadership in America, we revamped our older programs, we put on line a streamlined addition, and you know what, it works?
And let me, if I may, just share some of those comments with you, because the losses, frankly, are fairly devastating. We anticipate sales tax losses of about 20 to 25 percent. Our tourism industry is down at least 20 to 40 percent. It's obvious when national television is carrying stories of floods you're not going to get a lot of tourists coming out of Chicago or elsewhere wanting to visit.
So the impact on our budgets is going to be absolutely enormous. But let me suggest, if I may, the following. One is crop insurance. That seems to be really at the heart of the problem. Everybody seems to agree that the current program is not workable. It lacks logic, and therefore, ought not to be continued. So anything that can be done to reform crop insurance would really be a major victory. So I really applaud the administration's efforts in this area, and we would be delighted to work with you on it.
If I may comment on the second one, and that was already brought up, it has to do with banking regulation. There is some question about collateral requirement and the need for broader flexibility. And, again, we'd be happy to work with you on it. But our people tell us that more flexibility is needed so that local concerns can be more adquately dealth with.
The whole question of home insurance is rapidly becoming an issue that's increasingly being pushed on government. It raises interesting questions of how much development should be permitted on the flood plains, and who, frankly, should bear the risk. But as long as the problem ultimately lands up in our lap, then we have a concern to visit that problem. And on a state level, we in Minnesota will do that. And we will work with the federal government and your administration on that as well.
It gives us an opportunity, and I know it's a very touchy issue, and I suspect the Secretary of Agriculture might grimace, but the whole area of price supports. It's a difficult issue, I appreciate that. But it's one that, frankly, should be visited again.
And I would finally conclude on this, and that is I commend the President on his efforts for global markets. The truth of the matter is, theUnited States produces an extraordinary amount of food, does it efficiently, and does it at a very low price. And our capacity to enter other markets has clearly been restricted. And I know it's a sensitive issue for those other nations, but I personally applaud you for your efforts on GATT and on NAFTA. And I think the more that we can push our global exports, the stronger the agricultural belt becomes, because the states that we're dealing with here today, they really constitute not just the breadbasket of America, but really the breadbasket of the world.
And we do have the capacity to feed the world. And it's something that we should be increasingly protective of. More and more we're beginning to learn how suburban development, particularly in the eastern and the western parts of America is eating up very, very valuable agricultural land that we're paying all too little attention on it. And what that's going to mean, it's going to be increased pressure on the Midwest to be able to produce those products for the United States so that our people can eat at an affordable price and be able to have sufficient reserves so that we can ship and compete in the global markets. So I do applaud your efforts on that.
And, Mr. President, we'll be very happy to work with you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
GOVERNOR SCHAFER: -- the well-worn path between the houses in North Dakota and our churches are being used to ask for guidance and your leadership and focus on this very, very important issue.
And getting to the long-term effects on shipping and commerce in North Dakota, we are the third largest cropland state and are the number one exporters of wheat, flax, barley, sunflowers and edible beans. That exporting situation means we're going to put a lot of pressure on our commodity movement and on the shipment long-term.
Right now, we have bridges washed out, roads washed out that are going to need repair. We also are in a very flat and low drainage area. That means that we're going to have a long time of soft roadbeds with load restrictions -- any kind of smaller trucks or lighter loads that have to move obviously are going to drive costs up for farmers for the crops that we do get coming out of this problem.
Also we see the need for long-term storage capacity. If we aren't able to move the goods, we are going to have to come up with some arrangement to store; most of out bins are full. We had a very good crop last year. And we are going to have some pressures there. Also long-term we have the opportunity in North Dakota to go back to something that started the year you and I were born, and that is the damming system on the Missouri River. It was put into control flows for flood control, like right herein St. Louis. And we had some opportunities there, I believe, to help the movement of the water flow.
But long-term, most of the situations are going to be moving our crops. We're going to have to, if we can't get them solved, we're going to have to divert over to the St. Lawerence Seaway through the Great Lakes, or some way where we can move the products.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I'd like to ask Secretary Pena to comment on this issue, as well as on the infrastructure damage -- generally.
SECRETARY PENA: Mr. President, because of the extraordinary impact that the flooding has had not only on the regional transportation system, but frankly our national transportation system -- I came out a couple of weeks ago to observe this personally. The impacts have been phenomenal. Let's, first of all talk about the barge and two industry. We estimate that somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 barges are tied up. We understand that might affect that industry alone in the amount of $3 million to $4 million a day in losses to that industry. We are aware of the 11 general avaition airports that are under water, a number of highways that are under waters, bridges that have been under water or affected and affecting people's live daily, and, of course, interupting commerce.
The other impact, Mr. President, most people don't know about is the national impact this is having. We are now seeing shipments on the west coast which are being delayed or shipments missed because cargo is being tied up because of the problems here on the river. So this is a very high priority. What we have been doing, number one, is working very closely with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard -- and the Commandant is here -- have done an extraordinary job of working to, first of all, save people who needed to be moved, observing and the safety of the levies. Also bringing Coast Guard reservists, about 200 of them who have been called up to help in this matter. Our highest priority is to restore transportation throughout this area.
And so that means, number one, working very closely ith the Corps to ensure that the locks are opened as quickly as possible; as was earlier, one through 11 are now open. We're hoping to restore some others. Working very closely with all of the state Department of Transportations as we've been doing in the last several weeks to pinpoint where we can restore highways. And in that regard, Mr. President, we have already waived a number of regulations -- one having to do with drivers license for commercial drivers and also to allow the state DOTs to begin the work of highways reconstruction, and then we provide reimbursement later on.
The one point I want to make, Mr. President, is this: We are, unfortunately, at the hands of Mother Nature here, because we must wait until the river subsides before we can go back in and restore the locks, have the Coast Guard go in and put the navigational aids and the bouys back in place. And then we have to rechannel the river to allow the barges to go down the river. And that, unfortunately, is a reflection of how quickly the river can subside. So we will continue to work very closely with all the state DOTS and all the parties and the private sector to try to restore transportation here as quickly as possible, not only because of the regional impact, but because of the national impact that it has.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I'd like now to -- before we move on to discussing the actual aid legislation, I'd like to talk about one or two other issues. I'd like to ask Governor Nelson of Nebraska to talk about the question that many of the governors are facing, which is what happens to people who are displaced from their houses; and then I want to ask Secretary Cisneros to comment on that.
And you might feel free to comment on any of the other long-term economic issues of concern to your people.
GOVERNOR NELSON: Thank you, Mr. President. I don't believe it's on yet -- is it on? First of all, I, like my colleagues, would like to thank you for coming out to the Midwest to make another visit. You, together with the Vice President, and your Cabinet secretaries have made numerous trips here as part of perhaps reinventing government, doing things together, recognizing that the interagency cooperation is necessary for not only a quick but a comprehensive response to the disasters that we're experiencing here in the Midwest.
A particular thank-you to Secretary Espy for reacting very promptly and expeditiously as well on our application for disaster for extenuating circumstances, which we signed with other governors from here in this Midwestern area.
I note that the sign behind your table there say "Flood Response Mobilization and Recovery." And while a great deal of what we've talked about today has dealt with flood loss, I think it's important to say that in the state of Nebraska, we had a windstorm loss that in some respects is as large in total impact as from the flooding that we've had in the state as well.
I commented the other day, and the media picked it up when we spoke with the Vice President and the other governors, that we're not used to straight-lined winds in Nebraska reaching 65 to 90 miles per hour for such a long duration when the legislature's not in session. (Laughter.)
The truth of the matter is, we are not used to straight-lined wind losses. And many of the agricultural people who have been affected by this, the farmers and the ranchers, have had crop insurance for the kinds of disasters we have in Nebraska, flood, for hail loss or for drought.
But for whatever reason, the flood, the particular loss of windstorm is not one of the covered perils. And so one of the first things we need to focus on is how we can make the federal insurance program a multiperil coverage. Perhaps for a year this requirement could be waived, recognizing that we're not going to have a drought loss and that much of the hail loss has already occurred.
But as we focus on how to deal with the disaster, whether it's flood or whether it's windstorm, which between the two have affected nearly half of Nebraska's cropland, we must of course focus on how to deal with the housing problems that are being created by this.
In Nebraska, our housing loss may not be of the size of the problem in the state of Iowa because our flood losses are more confined than the Iowa losses. But whether it's due to flood or whether it's due to windstorm, if you lose your home it doesn't matter what caused it, you have a problem that must be dealth with.
And we're not here today, I think, as governors asking for a lot of help because we think that this is the typical or usual thing to do, but because it's the unusual. There isn't any way that Governor Branstad or I can plan for a 100-year or 200-year flood. At times it's not even possible to plan for some of the typical disasters that we're used to here in the Midwest. But when you have a generalized condition, as we've had with not only flood losses but windstorm losses than no one farming today in Nebraska -- and some are fairly old -- we have a high level of longevity in Nebraska -- can every remember a widespread straight-lined windsotrm loss of the size that we had through a good third of the state. When you have that kind of disaster, it is important that we come together and try to find a way to deal with this.
In a general sense, one of the best ways for us to be able to come up with solutions that will impact and help moderate the situation is to cut through the red tape. Not long ago, I had the occasion to make an environmental tour around Nebraska, and I stopped in the Sandhills, a very noteworthy part of Nebraska, and had a discussion with some students there, some grade school students who were very bright-eyed and very interested in the whole area of the environment. And one little girl said to me as we were talking about landfills and what we were going to do on a joint basis, she said, Governor, is red tape bad for the environment? Now, this is an eight-year-old. And I knew I wasn't being set up by an eight-year-old --certainly didn't think that I would be. And so I paused for a minute and I said, that may be a better question than you know, but what's the context? And she said that she'd been seeing on television a lot of discussion about all the red tape in Washington and she wondered we could put it. And as I told her, it's bad for the environment, but in a far different way than you can expect.
But if we can cut through some of the red tape, if we can streamline the process as you're attempting to do in reinventing government here, we can bring about some of the resolution in a much faster way than if we have to go out and start a new program. If we can eliminate some and create some waivers and eliminate some of that red tape that that little eight-year-old was talking about, we can get to the heart of helping not only agriculture but the communities.
Your suggestion, Mr. President, about the community block grant development funds is an excellent one. If we can broaden the base so that we can use those funds in the areas of housing, for example, in a way that they haven't been used in the past, that can help us both short-term and long-term.
If we can find a way to cut through some of the red tape with respect to the crop insurance and to make sure that it's broadbased coverage, that can help solve much of the problem that we have today. What we need to do, and why I think we're here, is to talk not only short-term but perhaps get the dialogue going long-term of how we can have an agriculture safety net that can catch people who are hitting in the hundred year disaster as well as how we deal with the ever year disaster that Secretary Espy is so familiar with. that's what we have to do.
Block grant renovation, if you will, coming up with a new way to make certain that the states have the assistance that we need to be as flexible as we can to deal with our unique problems, whether it's flood or whether it's windstorm; to be able to expand perhaps the homeownership, partnership program, to expand that. I now that Secretary Cisneros will be prepared to talk about that. I'm sure that he will.
If we can also focus on a very important part as we downsize military as a Governor, I'm concerned that we don't downsize our National Guard beyond our ability to deal with these national disasters, whether it's housing or whether it's just a typical sort of situation that creates a short-term discloation as opposed to long-term problems. And I wouldn't want to see that done.
We perhaps don't have the same affect to worry about in terms of foreign disasters and foreign enemies, but the most basic enemy of all that we have in our country is weather and weather-realted losses, whether it's loss of life or loss of property. Therefore, making certain that we have the staffing and the personnel necessary to deal with that becomes essential.
In conclusion, let me say that the little girl of eight years old has a real idea of the red tape. We have the ability to cut through it and not have to put it into a landfill. That's not the problem we have right now. But making sure that government works for everybody, for the states, for the federal agencies as well, but most of all for those taxpayers and those who are affected directly by these losses.
I thank you again for this opportunity. I look forward to continuing the dialogue. And thegreate debate will begin now about whether or not people should rebuild in a floodplain. And as we deal with that, which is a housing issue as well, there are a couple of issues that we have to think about, and that is that presently agriculture must have some proximity between where you live and where you grow your crops.
Proximity becomes important as well because many people in the flooded out areas have jobs in those areas. And so moving them to higher ground, while some people advocate that as one of the solutions, I suggest to you that we have to enter into that discussion very carefully because it's not going to be as simple as all that.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Secretary Cisneros. We flew over a lot of people that don't have their homes anymore today.
SECRETARY CISNEROS: Mr. President, the issue that I will address are an attempt to bridge immediate recovery items, which we can help with as well as some of the longer-term rebuilding questions.
Immediate needs, which will be visible as soon as the water recedes -- in housing needs, in streets and sidewalkds and municipal water systems -- and then others that communities will want to address over the longer haul in some of the town centers that have been destroyed and so forth.
I'd like to begin by picking up on your idea of using the community development block grant program, which is the most flexible program that we have. In terms of the use of CDBG for the short run, it can be used for clearance of debris, for provision of safety patrols, for demolition, clearance, and/or reconstruction of damaged property that is an immediate threat, for emergency reconstruction of essential water, sewer, electrical and telephone facilities, and for relief efforts to individuals.
Most of the states, the governors here, and every governor here, and many communities receive the CDBG program directly. Now, we can go beyond the uses I've just described by issuing waivers, which we are prepared to do. As a matter of fact, I've brought a form, which would simply identify the communities that would indicate what waivers they wanted. But some of these are the following waivers that are possible and we're prepared to do.
Prepared to waive CDBG restrictions on new construction and reconstruction. That is typically a barrier in the program; waive the repair and reconstruction of government facilities. Ordinarily we don't want to encourage the use on public sector administrative facilities, but where city halls and municipal facilities and so forth have been damaged, it's available.
To waive the cap on the amount that can be used for public services. We tried to restrict the amount to about 10 percent that is available for public service job. We're prepared to lift it to 25, 30 percent immediately. We can waive the restriction on reimbursement to local communities who use their funds in advance and then want to be reimbursed as soon as the CDBG money is available, which means that money could be spent right away. And prepared to waive the matches for administrative funds. Typically right now, communities when they have administrative requirements, have to have -- match that portion for administration -- we're prepared to waive that.
We will have our field offices contact every entitlement community and every governor's office to explore which of the waivers, or if you direct, Mr. President, we can do a blanket waiver for the areas that are designated as disaster areas.
A second portion of this is the home program, which as the Governor said, is a program that is typically specifically for the construction of homes. The home program operates in these are and it is being requested in the supplemental as well. It can be used for permanent housing, repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction, new construction of rental housing, rental assistance to tenants, relocation assistance, almost every form of assistance for housing.
Typically the matching contribution is 25 percent. We're recommending that it be eliminated completely so that in the disaster areas there will be no match whatsoever and it be a straight grant program to communities. So those are two program that can be used immediately.
The states here -- represented here -- receive in 1993, some $253 million worth of community development block grant, which is now being spent by municipalities. Not all of it is in the areas affected. So what we have to do is come up with additional money through the supplemental process for this program that really does allow for things that we can't see right now. Right now, we can see houses where people cannot go back and live there without major repairs. But what we probably can't see it the amount of damage done to roads and to municipal water systems -- I'm told that is a very serious problem -- and other infrastructure needs of this kind -- not the massive infrastructure that the Corps of Engineers or Transportation Department would do, like levies, but the smaller infrastructure within communities which CDBG is available for.
The third thing, briefly, Mr. President, if I may, is the FHA programs which ensure people's homes. We are urging FHA lenders to forebear on delinquencies, waive late payments, refinance mortgages, suspend the reporting of delinquencies to credit bureaus for single family homes, so that people who lose their jobs or are in economic straights are not pushed with respect to their FHA payments.
If HUD holds the mortgage on a house that is demolished or substantially damaged by the flood, HUD will satisfy the mortgage with hazard insurance and write off the debt. And we're prepared to do that. And the Assistant Secretary of FHA is here today to visit with the governors on this subject.
Additionally, HUD has notified FHA lenders that there will be a 30-day moratorium on any foreclosures of FHA mortgages. And HUD itself will postpone foreclosures for HUDheld mortgages.
Where multifamily housing is available, that is to say, apartments in communities that are either HUD-owned or FHAinsured, we are designating the vacant units for persons who have been displaced, whatever their status by the flood situation.
Finally, there is a program called the Section 203(H) program, which provides home financing for disaster victims. It provides mortgage insurance for persons purchasing a principal residence after being displaced by a flood and can provide up to 100 percent financing. In other words, this is someone whose house is so badly destroyed that they cannot go back to it at all and have to get a new residence and want to purchase a new residence, there's 100 percent insurance of the cost of that mortgage under this program. And we have made the mortgage lending community and our field offices aware of these programs.
So these are specifics, Mr. President, that we can put to work immediately. And as I said, what we can see now is one thing; what will be there when the waters recede in terms of the massive need I think is going to be larger than we envision right now because we take so many of these things for granted normally, that the water systems will work, water lines have not been destroyed, sewer systems and so forth. Particularly, as you said, CDBG is flexible enough that when we waive all of the traditional restrictions it can be used by the governors and by the local officials specifically for what they need and right away.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. That's very encouraging. And I know all the governors listened closely to it. I think we should -- I'm going to wait to hear from you, from the governors, about exactly how you would advice me to proceed on the CDBG issue and the waivers. You can be in touch directly with us or Secretary Cisneros. But I thank him for that very comprehensive discussion.
We need now to have a brief presentation from Mr. Panetta about the legislation now pending in the Congress. We are running about 30 minutes behind. We're actually only about 10 minutes behind because we started 20 minutes late because of the transportation. I think that's remarkable. But I would like to ask Leon just to run briefly through a summary of where we are right now and what the timetable is for the movement through Congress as well.
DIRECTOR PANETTA: Mr. President, governors, and ladies and gentlemen, the President has sent up an emergency supplemental request for assistance here to the midwest. That was sent up on Thursday afternoon and we expect that the Appropriations Committee on the House side will mark up on Tuesday, and then will take it to the Rules Committee on Wednesday. And this package will be voted on in the House of Representatives by Thursday of next week. And we expect that the Senate will act as rapidly.
The purpose, obviously, is to expedite aid as quickly as possible. The supplemental provides aid above and beyond what's already in the pipe line and it tries to anticipate as best as we can the level of assistance that needs to be provided.
One of the problems as pointed out here is that it's very difficult to assess the damages as the flood continues. And so what we need to do is to continue to try to monitor the situation and try to assess the level of damages on a day-to-day basis and try to feed that into the legislative process. And we will continue to do that both on the House side and on the Senate side as well.
Just to give you a brief rundown of the elements that are part of this package, agriculture is obviously close to a billion dollars. That's $600 million for crop losses, about $300 million in contingency funds. That's basically to cover additional assessments of damage and possible revisions with regard to the formula as we work through this.
I might point out to the Governor from Nebraska that we think the language does cover wind damage as well, related to this kind of weather pattern. And we will be in touch with you on that.
In addition to that, we have soil conservation money provided for $20 million for emergency conservation and $25 million for soil conservation. FEMA obviously is getting additional assistance there, the one agency that we're concerned about the possibility of running out of money because they provide immediate grants, as Director Witt has pointed out. We have $550 million there and $250 million in contingency funding for that, and we will probably add some additional money in contingency for FEMA.
In addition to that, we have assistance, obviously, for SBA to support $310 million in loans. For HUD, Secretary Cisneros has pointed out the additional money we're providing for HUD, particularly for planning. I might mention that $3 million of disaster recovery planning would be provided to state and local governments so that they can develop the planning that they need for reconstruction -- $50 million for disaster related community development and $100 million for construction and rehab of damaged low-income housing.
In addition to that, highways, $100 million for replacement of the damage that's occurred there. In the transportation area, we're looking at EDA, $100 million for the EDA program, the Economic Development program. Corps of Engineers, that's $65 million, and we expect that we're going to add another $10 million to that because the Corps has been so heavily involved in trying to protect damage on the river.
Coast Guard, that number may go up as well because that requires the Coast Guard to replace the navigation aids in the river so we can begin to move the barges again. So that's a number that also may go up. That number in the bill is $2.5 billion, with $824 million in contingency funding. I might point out that in addition to that, we're looking at $43.5 million for the JTPA program. Again, this is for dislocated workers.
The Federal Railroad Administration has asked for about $10 million to rehabilitate short-haul railroads. A lot of the short-haul stuff that carries crops has been heavily damaged. We need to repair that in order to move the crops. NOAA's asked for some additional repair money for their weatherization operation and we have $2 million in this request for the National Service operation that the President mentioned.
So those are the elements. I do think it's important, as a veteran of both flood and earthquake disasters in California, that we need to caution the victims of this disaster who have been heavily affected here. The purpose of all of the programs that you've heard about is to try to get you and your businesses and your farms back on their feet. The problem is there really is no program that can fully replace the level of damage that is taking place. But we will try to provide as much help as we can provide to try to get people back on their feet.
Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Before we close out this section -- and there are a couple of other things that we need to do -- but I would like to thank and recognize and give an opportunity to speak to Senator Mikulski. She has come all the way from Maryland -- this is not in her district or state -- because of her profound and longstanding concern about the operations of FEMA which fall within the jurisdiction of her committee. I thank her for coming and I hope she will be graceful enough, Governor Carlson, not to mention the Orioles' victory over the Twins last night. It was a very exciting game that I watched at the end.
SENATOR MIKULSKI: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. I come from the orange part of the map that the Vice President has just showed everybody earlier. And we, ourselves, will be -- we are facing a drought situation in Maryland. But, Mr. President, I'm here, as a member of the Appropriations Committee and someone who was the sharpest critic of the federal emergency response in other disasters, to tell the governors and the people of other states that they're not alone and they're not isolated. And as we move this legislative practice and program, that first of all, we want to do it quick and we want to do it right.
Senator Bond is a member of the Appropriations Committee and is a member of my subcommittee. And I know the Majority Leader and all of us want to say to people that there will be no gridlock and no partisan sniping to move this emergency management budget request.
Too often when people look at Congress, they think, when all is said and done, more gets said than gets done. But on this legislation, I truly believe that we will move this by the end of the next couple of weeks and before the August break of the United States Congress.
As Mr. Panetta and you have said, Mr. President, our job is to save lives, save communities, and save jobs. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the state and local people and the volunteers from the nonprofit agencies for the way they have worked so tirelessly and with such gallantry. As a Senator from another state, the people of the midwest should feel very proud of themselves.
And you, Mr. President, have provided a new response effort, the new world order facing a United States of America. In my six years as United States Senator, and in the five years that I have chaired this committee that bankrolls FEMA, I have never seen such a quick step, comprehensive response that then works with the state and local governments.
We want to continue, though, and I think you should be congratulated, and the governors, but also we want to be able to be clear to say probably one of the most difficult issues now will be the recovery. That as the waters subsides, that's when the federal government's efforts need to increase. And we have to be careful that the United States Congress does not have compassion fatigue so that the ongoing recovery efforts will be sustainable and reliable and ongoing, and that we do this through the regular appropriations process.
So, Mr. President, we look forward to working with you and your Cabinet and everyone here. But I will tell you I think that this is one of the most important breakthroughs that we've had in federal emergency management. I think that you, as Commander in Chief of disasters, should be congratulated. And it's obvious that when the governors dial 911 you were ready to respond.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I like that line. I don't know about being Commander in Chief of disasters. (Laughter.) I'm afraid I may live to hear that again before long. (Laughter.) But thank you very much, Senator Mikulski. That was a wonderful statement, and thank you for your work.
We have to wrap up, but Governor Edgar has asked for the floor.
GOVERNOR EDGAR: We're very appreciative of your efforts to get $2.5 billion, but I guess what I need -- I think all of us need some reassurance this isn't it. Because I think most of us feel this is going to be not enough. And I hope and you know the workings of Congress better than I do, but we don't pass this and they say, well, we've taken care of the problem and we're going to move on.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to make two points here. First, as we get more information in over this legislative process, we will ask that the bill be amended wherever it is --if it's in the House or in the Senate. But in order to keep faith with the members from all the other states, all of whom themselves might have disasters someday -- many of whom do -- but who are also charged along with me with, you know, maintaining the discipline of the budget. It's very important that when we plug a number in we have some research basis, some factual basis for it. But we intend to modify this as the information comes in on the losses. If the bill passes and there's still things that aren't dealt with that should be dealt with under federal law, we will go forward with seeking more assistance. It is not -- I want to make that absolutely clear.
Let me make one final comment about the substance here. Many of you have made the same observation that Senator Mikulski did about the importance of the on-going effort and that's really where I began my remarks.
In other contexts I have asked a member of the Cabinet to supervise -- I asked Secretary Cisneros, for example, almost the week after we took office to go down to Florida and supervise the long-term effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew so that they would know that we were still in there.
I asked Secretary Brown to go to California and to try to supervise a long-term effort to deal with the collapse of the economy of that state rooted very largely in the dramatic reductions in defense spending without any kind of off-setting plan for defense conversion.
And I think we ought to do that here. And so because so many of these states are farming states and because so much of this is agricultural loss, I've asked Secretary Espy to coordinate the long-term federal response in the flooded area here and he has agreed to do that. So he will be working with all the suggestions made by the governors today and by the suggestion made by Secretary Brown for economic development plans and others as well as with the FEMA director, James Lee Witt who may well have another emergency to deal with before we work our way out of the long-term problems here which is why I've asked the Secretary Espy to do that.
Let me also thank all of our hosts from Missouri, Mr. Wheat, Mr. Talent, Senator Bond, Majority Leader Gephardt, and Governor Carnahan. And before we break from here, I want to talk about the very important sessions coming up. I want to ask Mr. McLarty to describe very briefly what happens now.
MR. MCLARTY: Well, Mr. President, we certainly had a full morning and a substantive morning. This has been very helpful to all of us involved in your administration, and we hope for the governors and your colleagues here, and the members of Congress that we have underscored our commitment to be responsive and to be coordinated in that response to each of your states and the people that you are privileged to serve.
Mr. President, we would encourage everyone here to make full use of a fact book that has been put together on very short notice, but despite that it's a first time that really all of the federal programs and the state resources have been catalogued in one place. I think for those members of Congress and others that were with us this morning this will be a very helpful document and set of information for you.
As the President suggested, we will have working sessions this afternoon. Vice President Gore will be here for that session. They'll be just down the hall and are outlined in your program.
Before that, after the conclusion of this session, please help yourselves to sandwiches which will be right outside this room and the workshops will start promptly thereafter.
Mr. President, that give a preview of the afternoon and summarizes this morning.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to give our hosts here, Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Carnahan a chance to wrap-up if they like. Or Senator Bond, but before I do, let me say that Governor Finney from Kansas could not be here today but she is ably represented by her Chief of Staff who also happens to be her daughter and we're glad to see you here.
And I thank all the rest of you from around the room for being here. I hope the afternoon sessions are valuable. I think this has been quite important.
Not long after I became president I met with the governors and I asked the governors on a bipartisan basis to make sure that we kept our administration rooted in the real problems of real people. This is not exactly what I had in mind, but it certain does qualify. And I thank you all for being here and for the contribution you've all made.
GOVERNOR CARNAHAN: Mr. President, I want to again thank you for being here, I want to express my application for your coming and assembling the key decisions-makers that form the basis for this cooperation that we've been talking about. Not only the cooperation at your level but that between us.
And I guess I ought to put it just this way: Thank you for listening. The press has asked me about this meeting and whether it was going to amount to anything and what we were going to do, and I said, it didn't have to be arranged. You did not have to come here and sit and listen and have an interchange, but that's what we're doing and it's indicative of a different attitude and one that I think is going to carry us through and sustain us.
One thing I want to do is thank the Secretary of Labor for the very quick response on the jobs program and the fact that that's a down payment on something we can do later. I'm also heartened by the fact that the joint state, federal assessment teams are working even now so that perhaps we can have the public assistance portion of the declaration made soon.
One point I want to make in closing is that there is a problem of understanding magnitude. That's one of the good reasons for your being here and seeing and visiting with people. But our assessment yesterday, the special Cabinet meeting, was that our loss that we could ascertain so far has reached $2.7 billion in the state of Missouri and that about half of that is agricultural -- $1.4 billion.
Now we understand that there won't be reimbursement or help with all of that but that does give a perspective of how serious this is and how much larger it is than past losses.
I'm very heartened by the fact that this has been a true work session. Important business was transacted as we were assembling between my department heads and yours. That's very encouraging to us because there are some breakthroughs there, there some cooperation and it's not all money. Sometimes is was personnel and abilities that were being made available to us that will help us to help the locals solve their problems.
I am very encouraged by this meeting. And I am more determined than ever that we're going to go on with a coordinated response among our state departments, and that we're going to have access to you and the coordinated response of the federal government.
Again, I thank you, and I look forward to working with you, and I appreciate your taking this extra time and interest to help make this thing work.
REPRESENTATIVE GEPHARDT: Mr. President, I, on behalf of all of us, I want to thank the staff and the people here at the high school who made this facility available to us. They're great folks for doing this. (Applause.)
And finally I would just add that this is an unprecedented meeting. You ran a campaign for President saying you would put people first and by this meeting today, I think you've really done that. And we're going to sustain this effort, I think all of us together out in the future.
GOVERNOR BOND: Mr. President, our very sincere thanks to you, the Vice President, the members of the Cabinet for coming out to see the magnitude and the scope of this flood of biblical proportions. We believe that some of the best ideas come from outside the beltway. You're out here where people are facing the problems. They're dealing with them every day. And all of the states represented here, and particularly Missouri, appreciate your being here. I would join with the Majority Leader in saying that we have seen not only the volunteers right here today, but throughout this region who have done a magnificent job.
Organizations, like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, have proved their worth many times over. But this is a disaster which is going to require significant relief beyond what's available on a charitable basis. And that's why we appreciate your moving so quickly on the appropriations bill. We all know, and as you said, it is probably going to be higher than the $2.48 billion initially requested.
But I am extremely grateful that the chair of our HUD and independent agencies -- my good friend, Senator Mikulski, is here. And I think on her behalf and the rest of us in the appropriations process, we do want and need the best available documented figures on damage, probably no later than the end of next week because you have put this on a fast time schedule, as you indicated you would. And we need to know with as much precision as possible how much will have to be appropriated.
Thank you very much on behalf of all of the states represented here for coming.
THE PRESIDENT: Governor Branstad wants a last word. He's earned it, since he's down to taking a shower every other day.
GOVERNOR BRANSTAD: Mr. President, you visited Des Moines, Iowa, this week. And a good friend of mine, Dave Fisher, put together this t-shirt. We used to call Iowa a place to grow; it now says a place to row, July 1993. I want to give this tshirt to you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)
END12:54 P.M. CDT