JULY 27, 1951
HARTFORD, Conn., Thursday—An appeal has gone out from the American Red Cross for relief in the flood areas. It is hard for us to realize what this organization has had to do. At the peak of their operation they were housing 22,000 persons in 82 shelters and feeding 43,200 people daily. It is estimated that 18,000 families have been affected by this disaster.
Shattered homes must be repaired, and in some cases almost rebuilt. Many families will require long-term help from the Red Cross before they will be able to manage on their own again. It is strange but true that in the March fund raising campaign for the Red Cross this year, the goal that had been set for the operating fund of the organization was not attained. In view of this, President Truman has had to appeal to the public to contribute at least $6,000,000 now.
We have been called upon many times to help when nature has gone on a rampage and brought disaster in other parts of the world. And in our own country there have been many occasions when we have done the same. I am sure that we are going to contribute the full amount asked and more, because we cannot let our own people down in this emergency.
Having done this, I hope that we, as a nation, will set ourselves to the task of eliminating this outrageous waste through long-term planning and flood control.
I have already written how I feel about the shortsighted policy that has been followed in the past. In response to my column I got a letter from a man in that area who says that the people themselves might well be to blame because too often they elect people to represent them in Washington who primarily represent some special interest in that area and therefore can be "reached" when a question comes up in which some other special group is interested.
In this case, there had been long opposition to undertaking the necessary work of flood control. It means soil conservation work and forestry work to reach the basic trouble. But it also means possible building of dams, and whenever you undertake anything of this kind someone is hurt.
It can be planned, however, for if it is a planned program, people can be indemnified and it could not possibly be as harmful as the recurring floods. A selfish few should not be able to block the plans that should be undertaken for the vast majority of people living along the Mississippi and its tributary rivers.
There probably is also some conflict as to who should do the job and how it shall be done. With determination, however, that hurdle can be overcome. The real essential is that the people of this whole area should set themselves to elect representatives who have an understanding of the value of long-term planning in the control of flood conditions. These representatives should be willing to go into all the ways that would successfully accomplish this control, and they must be willing to act for the good of the majority and not for the interests of the few.