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As I said a while ago, there can be no good reason advanced as to why they should not separate the two and build Morganza. On the contrary, there are many benefits immediately to be derived from the construction of Morganza. The benefit that we used to derive years ago when Morganza beat us to it and broke would again arise to all of our southern section if that spillway was built and the water was put through there.
I am told, and I believe it to be true, that the lowering of the flood level of the backwater in lower Concordia, and therefore extending all over those parishes that Mr. Jacobs and others have spoken about, would be about from 5 to 6 feet. The lowering of the backwater to that extent would probably put-I will not say how many acres—but thousands and thousands of acres in Louisiana absolutely out of danger of water and injure not one single, solitary soul.
There are large portions of the State of Mississippi, beginning up above the town of St. Joseph, well above it, just south of Vicksburg, where there used to be there has not been in the last 15 or 20 years, but well within my time—thousands of acres on the east bank of the Mississippi, in the State of Mississippi, that used to be in the highest state of cultivation. In fact, there is a town known as Rodney that used to be quite a shipping point. It maintained two banks, and there were thousands of acres of land under cultivation between the hills and the river. There were large and valuable plantations down there that have since been abandoned. All of that land would be brought in, and not a single, solitary soul would be injured.
So I do not see how there can be any real, genuine, honest opposition to the severance of these two projects and the immediate construction of the Morganza floodway.
It is a fact, as I think General Ferguson testified to awhile ago, that the benefits of Morganza in proper operation would follow up as high as Vicksburg and in the Yazoo Delta to the extent of about a foot. A foot in backwater over that flat territory means a whole world. I do not think Mississippi herself or the Yazoo Delta itself would be benefited to the extent of a foot by the mere construction of the Morganza, but instead of being injured they are actually benefited. There can be no possible injury, Senator, to the severance of these two projects and the construction of Morganza.
Senator MILLER. In other words, Mr. Young, living in the Eudora territory you do not think it is possible to construct a Eudora floodway unless resort is actually had to condemnation?
Mr. Young. I will not go that far, Senator. I believe that if Morganza is constructed, and the people believe that it is not sufficient and will not save the situation and will subject other parts of the State to overflow, the situation among the property holders in the Eudora territory would be different. Speaking for myself, personally, I own property in the Eudora floodway. If Morganza is constructed and it is found that Morganza does not serve the purpose, I would grant a rightof-way immediately on my property for a proper consideration.
Senator MILLER. You have not granted a right-of-way?
Mr. YOUNG. No, sir. They came to me the first time and offered such an insignificant amount that I did not consider it at all; and the second time I told them just what I have told you now, that if Morganza is constructed and proves not to be sufficient to take care of the river situation, I will give them a right-of-way.
Senator MILLER. You understand what I am driving at. I am not quarreling with the people down there for not wanting to give up their property. I am trying to establish as a fact that it is a very difficult proposition to construct the project through Louisiana.
Mr. Young. I do not believe, sir, that there is any chance on earth of getting options to the amount of 75 percent in the Eudora floodway at this time. I do not think there is any earthly chance.
Senator MILLER. Especially is that true where the public sentiment has been created down there by this organization.
Mr. Young. Pardon me, Senator, but I think public sentiment created the organization.
Senator MILLER. That might be true. I am not finding any fault with the operation of the organization. No doubt they were motivated by the highest desires to protect themselves, and public sentiment probably resulted in the formation of this organization, rather than the organization being created for the purpose of creating public sentiment. But that sentiment is there, nevertheless.
Mr. Young. It is there, yes; and strongly.
Senator MILLER. It was evidenced here in the hearing on the Overton bill.
Mr. YOUNG. Yes. That has been quite evident at every meeting you have ever had.
Senator MILLER. That situation still exists just about like it did then.
Mr. Young. I think it has rather crystallized. You understand, I am not an engineer, Senator.
Senator MILLER. I am not, either.
Mr. Young. I do not know anything about the science of hydraulics; but the action of the river since these cuts have been functioning, though not fully, has been such as to give us hope, with the canalization which is now going on
Senator MillER (interposing). Giving you hope on the south end, but it does not extend to the north end.
Mr. YOUNG. I know very little about your section, Senator, in Arkansas, except that I know this fuse-plug levee is there, and that is something that I have been very much afraid of for years.
Senator BILBO. Mr. Young, you said correctly that there are wonderful lands and plantations on the east bank of the Mississippi, and that those have been destroyed as a result of floods. Of course, you know that it was the Louisiana levee that did that?
Mr. Young. I know it was the levees on the Mississippi River, and that the immediate cause was the levee on the other side of the river, opposite, which was in Louisiana.
Senator Bilbo. You say you are not an engineer. How do you reach the conclusion that the backwaters of the Yazoo Basin will be lowered a foot?
Mr. Young. I just heard General Ferguson say so today. I had understood that before, but I heard him say that today. It may be that he said 6 inches to a foot, but I think he said a foot.
Senator OVERTON. We are certainly very much obliged to you, Mr. Young
(The witness withdrew from the committee table.)
STATEMENT OF RALPH HEBERT, STATE SENATOR OF LOUISIANA,
REPRESENTING THE EIGHTEENTH SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF
Senator OVERTON. Senator Hebert, what official position do you occupy?
Mr. HEBERT. Senator, do you want a list of them, or just one of them?
Senator OVERTON. I will take the most important one.
Mr. HEBERT. I am senator from the eighteenth senatorial district of Louisiana-State senator.
Senator OVERTON. Are you connected with any levee board?
Mr. HEBERT. Not connected with any leyee board, no, sir; except that I represent these boards. All of these associations are in my parish.
Senator OVERTON. In what capacity?
Mr. HEBERT. Merely as their representative. They have sent me here for that purpose.
Senator OVERTON. Where do you live in relation to the Morganza floodway?
Mr. HEBERT. Just about 8 or 10 miles north of the Morganza floodway.
Senator OVERTON. How long have you resided in that territory?
Mr. HEBERT. Twenty-seven years; that is, in the area where I am now.
Senator OVERTON. We have under consideration a bill which, if enacted into law, would authorize the immediate construction of the Morganza floodway. In order to do that the bill provides that the Morganza floodway can be constructed when 75 percent of the flowage easements in that floodway alone have been obtained. statement to make in reference to the bill?
Mr. HEBERT. Yes, Senator. We are supporting your amendment 100 percent. It has been my pleasure to call many meetings down there to get the people in a frame of mind to sign options that are required to put the Morganza floodway through.
My Louisiana people, particularly in that section, are law-abiding, home-loving people; and it was that same thing that finally got them all united and agreed to sign these options.
The fact of the matter is that when the Government sent in these options to sign I was approached by the gentlemen who were getting these options with the statement that unless I went out and helped to solicit these options there might be some difficulty in securing them.
I went out with these gentlemen and we secured some of them. A short while afterwards, the gentlemen returned and said that unless I would go further and endorse the movement by signing an option myself on the property that my wife and I own in there, they might still hold back about signing options. We signed the options in fee simple, accepted the figures set forth by the gentlemen presenting the options, and I understood from those men that the figures we had set forth and the signing of the options were very helpful to them in securing the other options.
I am proud to say, in my position here today representing my district, and particularly the Pointe Coupee Parish in the Morganza area, where the proposed spillway is to be, it has not only supplied the
Have you a
Government with the 75 percent of options required, but with about 90 percent of the options required. I believe it is á fact that these options are satisfactory to the War Department and whoever the proper authorities are to accept these options.
I want to state, further, that my people have been glad to accept the Morganza spillway and, in accepting it, not only to help ourselves but to help the Arkansas people, the Mississippi people, or anybody else whose water is sent down to Louisiana. We are trying to take care of it for them as well as we can. We welcome their water, and we trust that these gentlemen will be gracious enough to accept these options that we are extending and permit us to be really helpful in at least an attempt to solve part of this flood problem.
I would say, Senator, that I would not want to have this committee believe that my people are so generous as to want to make donations purely from philanthropic motives; but I have a little sketch here that I am going to supplement with some more sketches that I would like to file with you.
When this program started off, these cut-offs, as explained by these gentlemen today, were made in the upper river. I have heard considerable discussion as to the stages of water, millions of cubic feet, and all that. I am a farmer, I will say, Senator—much more of a farmer than I am a Senator, too. So I am going to ask you gentlemen to bear with me as we go on with this matter.
These theoretical ideas are all right, but I figure them as a victim of overflows to the extent of probably thirty-some thousand dollars, and I am qualified to talk about it myself.
Prior to the cut-offs in the upper river at Phillipston, which is on our side of the Mississippi River opposite Angola, there was a sand bank that extended out three-quarters of a mile where kids used to wade and swim. It was our little "Palm Beach." The current of the Mississippi River hugged the Angola side. Since cutting off, as I understand it from the engineers' statement, one hundred-and-someodd miles, we found in 1937 that there had been a hole cut in the ramp of the levee about 60 feet deep-of course, that is a layman's opinion, but we pay the bills and we are entitled to an opinion, too-due to cross-currents that were hitting in there. The water turned two ways when it came down. Part of it went down the Mississippi, part of it shot back up toward the Atchafalaya, through Old River, when the Atchafalaya was low enough to take it. The United States engineers must have found that situation serious enough to come in there last May and build a run-around, and I do not think they made any mistake. I think they made an underestimate of the caving condition of that bank, and today they are back in there building a second run-around levee.
The entire area around this little map [indicating] is all, or a great portion, on the 1927 grade section.
Mr. Jacobs. The 1914 grade section.
Senator OVERTON (interposing). Wait a moment. The Riverside levee extending along the Mississippi River, the northern part of Pointe Coupee?
Mr. HEBERT. Yes.
Senator OVERTON. And then coming down the east bank to the Atchafalaya River to where the Morganza floodway will go in the event it is built?
Mr. HEBERT. Yes, sir.
Mr. JACOBS. He means the existing fuseplug levee which starts on the Mississippi River at Batchelor and goes up the Mississippi River 30 miles, 10 miles across on Old River, and then down the east Atchafalaya River levee, all of which is a fuseplug levee, and all of which circles Pointe Coupee Parish.
Mr. HEBERT. That is, the south guide levee of the Morganza spillway has never been built, so that there is no possible way for us to escape not only a wetting but a drowning if anything happens to this levee. But, as stated before, that is a low-grade levee.
Senator OVERTON. The 1914 grade and section?
Mr. HEBERT. Yes. I am mentioning that so that these gentlemen will not find it strange that we were generous in offering our lands; and I think you will find, if you will consult the engineers' figures, that the prices are very reasonable for the class of land that we have in there.
I am going to read you this memorandum which refers to the area from the present south guide levee of the Morganza spillway and the levee that surrounds us on the north, east, and west (reading]:
In that area we have 1,200 farm families that produced 8,300 bales of cotton on 10,000 acres; that produced 250,000 bushels of corn on 14,000 acres. That was in 1937. They produced 8,000 tons of sugarnot sugarcane, but sugaron 400 acres of cane. The largest portion of Pointe Coupee's cattle and hogs are raised in this area; likewise hay, potatoes, sirup, etc.
These figures were secured and furnished to me by the county agent of that parish.
Senator OVERTON. In the event that the Morganza floodway is constructed, then, under the law, that levee that you referred to, that gives you adequate protection, will be built up to the 1928 grade and section?
Mr. HEBERT. I believe that is the law, Senator; I think that is correct.
Senator OVERTON. What other area besides that is protected? What area would be protected by the construction of the Morganza floodway?
Mr. HEBERT. I have some figures which I have had tabulated and which I ask to have put into the record. If this spillway is built we figure that those lands will be protected, or their protection will be increased and, in a great many cases, will be primarily benefited.
This statement covers a recapitulation of lands that will be affected by Morganza spillway: It covers the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Iberia, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. Landry, St. Mary, St. Martin, Terrebone, and West Baton Rouge. The total cultivated area of those parishes is 981,792 acres, and the total value of those lands is $64,001,592.
Senator OVERTON. Is that the assessed value or the actual value?
Mr. HEBERT. The assessed value, Senator. I had this statement prepared by the assessor and the county agent, who said the figures were authentic.