158. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam 1

416. Embtel 471.2 Suggest flood offers major opportunity GVN demonstrate concern population, ability do something for them, particularly since flood area coincides with area strong Red influence and is situation which offers opportunity show people GVN solicitude their welfare in concrete terms they can understand. If GVN gives flood only “guarded publicity”, flood area will doubtless absorb its losses and recover in time, but chance for major psychological victory will have been lost. Recommend Embassy urge Diem declare disaster area, request assistance friendly nations, perhaps make radio appeal to nation, mobilize resources government bureaucracy and military on crash basis. Could this be opportunity for Civic Action type program by ARVN? Thompson may have suggestions re control rice and supplies which may be distributed.

Department, ICA, DOD studying possibilities US disaster aid. Request Embassy assessment needs soonest. Assume any US aid would be provided in manner calculated maximize GVN credit with [Page 347] VN populace. Understand some disaster equipment such as water purification may be available Phnom Penh.

Embassy may wish consult CA-11026 of June 16, 1958,3 which outlines possible actions such disasters. Note Ambassador may offer up to $10,000 assistance at his discretion.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 851K.49/10-1161. Confidential; Niact. Drafted by Heavner, cleared with Wood, ICA, DOD, and the Bureau of the Budget, initialed for the Acting Secretary by Cottrell, and repeated to CINCPAC for PolAd, Phnom Penh, and Bangkok for Anspacher.
  2. Document 153.
  3. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 800.49/6-1658)