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STATEMENT OF STEVE BARBRE, POINTE COUPEE PARISH, LA.
Senator OVERTON. Mr. Barbre, where do you live, and what is your occupation?
Mr. BARBRE. I am a farmer and live in Pointe Coupee Parish on the Atchafalaya River.
Senator OVERTON. On what part of the Atchafalaya?
Mr. BARBRE. Barbre's Landing is where I was born and raised. I am now living at what is known as McCrea, which is 15 miles down the river from Barber's Landing. It is right at the junction of the Red, Old, and Atchafalaya Rivers. They call it Three Rivers, now. It is at the head of the Atchafalaya River. That is where the Government gage is kept and has been kept for years and years.
Senator OVERTON. Are you connected with any levee board?
Mr. BARBRE. No, sir. I was a member of the Louisiana flood control body at one time until that body was dissolved.
Senator OVERTON. Have you had occasion to give consideration to the flood-control problems in the Atchafalaya Basin and on the Mississippi?
Mr. BARBRE. Yes, sir, all my life. I have lived right there on the Atchafalaya River all my life, and since I was a child I have been studying it. The prophesies I have made concerning this river and statements I made 25 or 30 years ago have been borne out.
Senator OVERTON. We have before us a bill the object of which is to separate the Morganza from the Eudora. Have you any objection to the enactment of that bill?
Mr. BARBRE. None whatsoever; we are wholeheartedly in favor of it. The only kick that has ever been raised at all in there was raised by me. That was that 49-foot Angola stage. That was on account of counter-drainage in the ring levee.
Senator OVERTON. It has been suggested that the bill be amended so as to leave it to the discretion of the engineers to determine what the intake should be in the Morganza floodway. Have you any objection to that?
Mr. BARBRE. Not a bilt in the world. Having heard Brigadier General Ferguson testify here, I feel he has given us the best plan for flood control that we have ever had.
Senator OVERTON. You may proceed with your statement, Mr. Barbary.
Mr. BARBRE. Well, the statement that I want to make, Senator, is this: We live in what is known as a ring levee up there. As you were told yesterday, its population is about twelve hundred farm families, and I am among them.
Under the old Jadwin plan we were promised the 1914 grade and section of our levees. General Jadwin really condemned our land. He thought we ought to give up those lands for nothing. We were then in what is known as the East Atchafalaya floodway. We asked for a hearing before General Jadwin and the Mississippi River Commission, which was held at Smithland.
We left there with the impression that General Jadwin thought that we should be highly elated because he was going to flow this water over us. He said he was not going to pay us anything because these waters would only come every 15 years and a superflood once every 200 years. He could not see how it would damage us any but thought it was going to do us plenty of good. We could not see it that way.
Another thing: Under his plan he was flowing water over the highest land in the parish.
We fought that and got out an injunction against him and stopped it. Then there was a case started up near Monroe by Mr. Kincaid. The lower courts decided in favor of Kincaid, and I think the higher Court sustained him, and we were all elated. But one morning we picked up the paper and saw that the Supreme Court had opened up the case again, because the United States was responsible for what had been done and it could not be enjoined. The Court said that the case should have been tried on its merits and not for an injunction.
Then the engineers, even though everybody was trying to get the Jadwin plan amended, started this line of levee again to come down to within 4 miles of Morganza. We held a meeting-a protest meeting-and showed them that they could not come any further. They stopped. Then your bill was passed.
Last spring it was broadcast to the world over the radio that the waters were going over our housetops and that everybody within 50 miles of the Mississippi River should be moved out. everybody into a state of panic down there, and the Engineers then decided to continue this guideline levee and did continue where they had knocked off about 4 miles out of Morganza and brought it into Morganza.
We immediately held another protest meeting, not that we wanted to take the attitude of a dog in the manger and wanted to drown our neighbors out, because we felt that they were entitled to protection even though we were not, but we had consulted some lawyers who advised us that it was best to hold a protest meeting in order to lay a foundation, so that in the event we were swept away by the flood we would have some recourse. They brought it on up to Morgan.za. They did there what they had no authority in law for doing. However, we did not kick about it to any great extent except that we tried to protect our own interests. We asked the Engineers if it would not be possible to put a little dirt on our low stretches down there. They said no, that under the Overton Act it would be impossible until they got 75 percent of the rights-of-way to bring those
I called their attention to the fact that under the old Jadwin law they could be brought up to the 1914 grade and section and that also in that act it said that pending the completion of floodways those in the unprotected areas should have the same degree of protection as those in the protected areas.
I asked them how they got around that to build this other levee up to the 1928 grade and section. They are just about a quarter of a mile adjoining. They way it is now adjoining into the Eudora, we cannot move or do a thing. Naturally, we want them started.
I have here a little map that we have drawn which shows this whole thing. It is crude, but nevertheless we are dammed on one side by this guideline levee and we are dammed on the other side by the Texas & Pacific Railroad.
About 30 years ago we had in there what was known as a second drainage district, and that district kept showing the fall of the landthe level of the land-from Red River Landing, from Angola. It showed that the fall of land was 6 inches to the mile, 16 inches lower at Redcross than it was at Red River Landing.
My contention is that it came mighty near happening last year through that flood. If we had had a break at the head around Smithland or Red River Landing, the water from the inside would have run over the levee. I shudder every time I think that my family is in there.
I work for the Farm Security Administration, and I go down there every morning. I had no idea in the world that there was anything wrong with the levee at all. Half a mile out in front of it was a huge sandbar. When the levee fell there was a 60-foot cut right down toward the levee. If that levee breaks, in the condition we are in we are going to be swept off the face of the earth.
Senator OVERTON. The construction of the Morganza floodway would relieve that condition?
Mr. BARBRE. Absolutely.
I listened to Mr. Young yesterday, and I want to corroborate what he said about the conditions that have existed in the past relative to a break at Morganza.
In 1890 I was 16 years old. We had a break between my father's plantation and Mr. Keller's. That crevasse had run about a week on a rise in the river, a rise of about four-tenths every day. I was reading the gage for my aunt, who was the gage keeper. One morning I got up and went down to the gage and found that it had fallen sixtenths.
I came back and reported it to my brother, saying that the river had fallen six-tenths.
He immediately said, "Morganza must have broken."
Mr. Keller came down that evening, and the river had fallen sixtenths.
He said, "I want you to go with me to New Orleans. We want to see Mr. Morris, of the Louisiana lottery, to see if we can get some money to close that crevasse.
They went to New Orleans, and I went with them. We stayed down there about 4 or 5 days and then came back, and I suppose we were 5 or 6 days in closing the crevasse. We started cribbing from each end and finished in the middle, and by the time we had finished in the middle the crevasse had quit running.
In 1916 Mr. Jacobs—and he can verify this—and Mr. Jennings, who is president of the Atchafalaya levee board now, and I were discussing flood conditions. Mr. Jacobs and I both agreed at that time that what was necessary for flood control was, as we termed it at that particular time, an outlet at Morganza. Our scheme was to cut a canal 500 feet wide and 10 feet deep and spill half of the dirt over on each side of it so as to hold the water out of those areas and let it flow through this as a kind of river, and from the middle of that
27 miles on each side build those guideline levees. We would then still have had our condition of not letting the water in against the levees until it reached the 49-foot stage.
The position we are in is relative to drainage in this ring levee, and that is why I have always insisted on a 49-foot stage. However, I took the bars down and will prefer it any way it comes, because we are sitting right on the brink of destruction, and I am afraid we are going to drown some of those people. But if that canal were cut, we would still have that 49-foot stage, because the water would not get past our levees until it passed 49 feet.
I have discussed that with some engineers. I do not know that they are authorities on it; still, some of them, I think, are good men. They told me that a pumping plant to pump water out of there will cost $20,000,000. It does not bother me at all if it costs a billion if we will not be ruined. We have been given plenty of promises, but we have never got anything.
Senator OVERTON. Under the law, the engineers must take care of everything Mr. BARBRE. We have done everything the Government has asked
Everybody has cooperated in getting options. We have still got undivided confidence in our Government, our Senators, our Congressmen, our State board of engineers, and our Government engineers. We still believe in them.
Senator OVERTON. You want the drainage taken care of in that area between the Morganza and the Atchafalaya and Mississippi?
Mr. BARBRE. There is no logical reason under the sun why that should not be taken care of. You would have to flow water up here for Eudora to do us any good.
Senator OVERTON. I think we are all agreed upon the necessity for the construction of the Morganza.
Mr. BARBRE. I surely hope you construct it.
Senator OVERTON. The next speaker is Mr. J. Martian Hamley, of Lake Providence, La.
STATEMENT OF J. MARTIAN HAMLEY, LAKE PROVIDENCE, LA.
Senator OVERTON. Mr. Hamley, you may proceed with your statement.
Mr. HAMLEY, Mr. Chairman, it is very difficult to make an interesting statement after the ground has been so thoroughly covered. I appear here not as an engineer and not as a lawyer; I do not represent anybody who has any land to sell, or anything of that kind, in the Eudora floodway.
I happen to be president of the association opposed to the Eudora floodway in northeast Louisiana. I have opposed construction of the Eudora floodway from the very beginning until this day, because I believe that it is not necessary to sacrifice 800,000 acres of land to keep somebody else on some other place from being overflowed.
It is rather a selfish position, but that is the position we maintain down there.
I think our association has been largely responsible for the opposition to the Eudora floodway. We are not basing our opinion, Mr. Chairman, on any engineering knowledge, or anything of that kind, but just upon the knowledge we have gained from life-long existence within sight of the Mississippi River levees. Most of us have lived there all of our lives and have had occasion to go through many overflows and observe the actions of the Mississippi River when it was behaving badly and when it was behaving well.
We have become so thoroughly convinced by reason of general knowledge of water conditions and water flow that if an outlet sufficiently large is provided in the lower end of any kind of irrigation ditch or any kind of river, where by the simple process of nature water can get out of the river a great deal faster than it could otherwise, necessarily it would lower the flood heights of the water in the river. That is the reason why we are so thoroughly convinced that the opening of the Morganza floodway, which we are here to advocate, would relieve the situation very materially and to quite an extent up the Mississippi River levee, coupled with the cut-offs that have been constructed. When they begin to function more efficiently than some of them are now functioning we will not have any necessity for a floodway in northeast Louisiana. That is our position.
Very little has been said here about these cut-offs, but I personally have been through practically all of them and have had occasion to view their operation at first hand both in high water and in low water.
I know, just as a man who lives along the Mississippi River, that the flow in the river was practically doubled in the flood of 1937 over what it had ever been before. I have no way of knowing anything about hydraulics or about the current, but I was told, in talking with some boatmen and captains of boats-men who operate tow boats in the Mississippi River--that the flow of the current through those cut-offs was so rapid that it was impossible for even the mammoth barge line steamers to handle a tow coming south, or coming downriver, in the cut-offs during 1937. I also know that it has been almost impossible for some of the smaller boats on the Mississippi to stem the tide in the cut-offs.
So, I know from that as a practical proposition that the current has been rapidly increased. I was told—I do not know how correct it is, but I think it is nearly correct—that there was a flow of 13 miles an hour in the Mississippi in 1937 at the flood heights. I know that that flow was and is caused entirely and solely by the cut-offs that were designed by General Ferguson, who is the only man I know of, in my existence of more than 50 years on the Mississippi River, who has ever had nerve enough and courage enough to take hold of the Mississippie River and treat it as it ought to be treated and handled.
I know, too, that this flow in the river through the cut-offs is shortened in 330 miles something over 110 miles between the mouth of the Arkansas and the mouth of the Red Rivers.
I know, Mr. Chairman, as a practical proposition, that with that accentuated flow and that terrific volume of water going down the Mississippi River, the water is going to pile up below these cut-offs around the mouth of the Red River to such an extent that it is not only going to jeopardize the lives and property of people in this Atchafalaya country and Morganza area and south on the Mississippi River, but it is a certainty that whenever that river rises high enough there is going to be a terriffic disaster in that country.
I live in Louisiana and know many folks down there. I am interested in flood protection for everybody, but I particularly do not want to see existing a condition that would actually destroy the people and all that they own and all that they have worked for in this Mor