« PreviousContinue »
Mr. Gould. Yes; it did, but not in as great a proportion as it did above here at Rohwer.
Senator MILLER. Then, if you are to get water out of there, that levee has got to be raised?
Mr. GOULD. Yes.
STATEMENT OF JOHN BAXTER, DERMOTT, ARK. Mr. BAXTER. My name is John Baxter. I live at Dermott, Ark., where I am an attorney at law and a landowner.
Senator MILLER. You may proceed to make your statement, Mr. Baxter. Make it as brief as you can.
Mr. BAXTER. I am also engaged in banking and am president of the Production Credit Association which make loans throughout that country. I am familiar with that region and have been for 20 years.
First, about the options. The options came out about July 1, 1937. They were taking options on fee and also on flowage rights. I think at Senator Overton's suggestion the engineers stopped taking options for fee-simple title and only took them for flowage rights.
Senator OVERTON. That is right.
Mr. BAXTER. Then the reports were circulated throughout the territory that there was a new option or a new contract coming out. That option came out some time the last of October. Our people began immediately to sign options.
Senator MILLER. You are confining your remarks to the northern extension?
Mr. BAXTER. To Arkansas only. I know nothing about the Louisiana set-up and do not pretend to have anything to say about it. I do not want to meddle in their affairs down there. Any remark I make with reference to options pertains to Arkansas territory.
I understand from the engineers that they have obtained 69 percent that have actually signed up. "The General American Life is ready to sign up with about 9 or 10 thousand acres, and I am satisfied that agreements have been reached with the engineers for signing so that 85 or 90 percent of those options could be obtained at satisfactory prices within the next 30 days. More than 75 percent have now been obtained.
Senator MILLER. That is, for flowage rights?
Our folks accepted the Overton Act as it was, realizing the condition that they had been in for 10 or 12 years, and they are perfectly satisfied with it. We are lined up with it and have been for it just as Morganza has. We have tried to comply with it and tried to get the options, and we want it carried out, so far as Arkansas is concerned.
In order that the committee may know the population of the district, there are four counties involved in Arkansas. Chicot County is practically all involved, with a population of approximately 25,000. Desha County is practically all involved with a population of about 25,000. All of the east parts—the heavily populated parts of Ashley and Drew Counties are involved and were flooded in 1927, and I presume the population in the two parts of those counties to be flooded is at least 30,000. So, I would say that in the floodway in Arkansas there are about 80,000 people to be protected. Those 80,000 people are engaged chiefly in agricultural pursuits.
Chicot County this year raised 49,000 bales of cotton, Desha County 52,000, and that part of Ashley and Drew Counties in the bottom territory is where the principal part of their cotton is raised. I presume that 30,000 or 40,000 bales, at least, are produced there. So, we have produced in this territory from 130,000 to 140,000 bales of cotton outside of other crops, such as corn, alfalfa, and oats, which are grown in that part of the country.
When the Overton Act was passed, we accepted it. We were glad to have some solution, and we rejoiced, but we believe that the cut-offs are not what some of the folks think they are.
I will give you my reasons for that as a layman. The engineers say that in 1927, 1,152,000 second-feet of water came down the Arkansas River and the White River. Fortunately, they say, in 1937 the water coming from those rivers was practically negligible.
General Ferguson said yesterday that from 60,000 to 80,000 secondfeet of water constituted about a foot's rise in the river. Taking 200,000 feet from 1,150,000 feet would leave at least 900,000 secondfeet of water that must pass this territory if the Arkansas and White Rivers are up to join with an Ohio flood.
If that be true, then dividing 70 into 900,000, you can see that the river would have been raised at least 12 feet in the fuse-plug areas. That is their own argument. Therefore, they are topping the levee by several feet. I think that is just as true as preaching. I do not think it could be any truer. We all know that if the Arkansas and White Rivers had had any water at all in 1937, we would have had a powerful flood.
Therefore, we believed in the diversion and accepted the Overton Act and got our people to cease opposition to it and give options so that the engineers could go ahead with their work up there.
We are perfectly willing to leave the engineering features to the engineers, because they have told us that it was necessary to have diversion, and if the other folks do not want a diversion, that is all right.
Senator OVERTON. In making that estimate as to how high this fuseplug levee should be, you are taking into consideration two facts: First, that there would be a combination of a tremendous flood in the Ohio and a flood in the Arkansas and White?
Mr. BAXTER. Yes, sir. In other words, if the Mississippi River had even been 3 or 4 feet lower as it passed Helena, and the Arkansas and the White had been equal to the 1927 flood, there would have been no possibility of confining the waters, in my opinion, to the fuseplug
Conditions in 1937 in this flood territory in Arkansas were terrible. That is the thing we dread happening again. Bulletins were issued from Washington to vacate the valley, and those folks were all living in fear for 8 to 10 weeks. Many poor farmers, who have been talked about here, sold their stuff for practically nothing. Many of them moved out of the territory. There was terrible fear for 10 weeks, and for that reason whatever land values there were in Arkansas dried up for a number of years.
Our position in this situation is about like this: We are not concerned about the Louisiana folks. We hope they get what they want. But while they are getting what they want, we feel that we have complied with the requirements, and since we have a situation which is the same
as the Morganza we would like to see this levee built from the Arkansas River down to the Louisiana line, if they can tie it in or not tie it in.
Senator OVERTON. The back protection levee?
Mr. BAXTER. The back protection levee; yes, sir. We want the back protection levee. As one man said a while ago, suppose the fuseplug levee breaks at the bottom end. That would be so much better for him, because the water that he contends could be taken down the river will be carried, and he ought not complain. That is our position with reference to that.
If the Louisiana folks do not want the Eudora floodway, we do not want them to have it, but we do believe that since they are willing to take the risk, our back-protection levee ought to be taken down to the Louisiana line. Let the engineers decide how it should be handled. We are perfectly willing to leave it to the engineers, because we have had them experimenting with us for 12 years, and we have now got our options and believe that our fuseplug levee should now be constructed up to the 1914 grade and the back-protection levee built to give us complete protection. As to what the other folks do, we ought not have any right to say about it.
We feel that it would not hurt Mississippi and would not hurt Louisiana or create any greater hazard than they now have.
Senator MILLER. The options that have been granted in the extension have been granted upon the theory that the fuseplug levee would be built up to the 1914 grade and that the back-protection levee would be built?
Mr. BAXTER. Oh, yes, Senator. We have all been told by the engineers that the fuseplug levee would be maintained at the 1914 grade and 1928 section. I do not mean the 1928 grade equal to the Mississippi side, but the 1928 section, and that part of the levee--that guide levee or back-protection levee—would be built equal to the Mississippi side.
Senator MILLER. Mississippi might complain about that, because when the water went down to the lower end, to the State line, they were afraid that the levee could not stop it down there and that a break would be caused.
Mr. BAXTER. I cannot see how the diversion there would put any more water in the river at the Louisiana line then would come straight down the river. I cannot see how that would affect it at all.
South of Bird's Point—this way—the river was lower than it would have been if Bird's Point had not been in operation.
Senator MILLER. If the water goes over the fuseplug levee and strikes the back protection levee, it just gives that area to be flooded?
Mr. BAXTER. That is right; it gives it as a reservoir.
Senator MILLER. Instead of letting it go down through the other counties you have mentioned and into the Boeuf and the counties of Louisiana, it holds it in that area and lets it flow back into the river below?
Mr. BAXTER. Yes; and it could be left open at the Louisiana State line.
Senator OVERTON. Left open where?
Mr. BAXTER. I understand that the people in the Eudora floodway are willing to take their chances in the upper end of the Eudora floodway. They do not believe they are going to get any water.
Senator OVERTON. Do you mean an opening in the back-protection levee, so as to dump the water down into Louisiana?
Mr. BAXTER. I mean the bottom part, at the Louisiana State line.
Senator OVERTON. Do you mean an outlet into the Mississippi from this Arkansas Reservoir?
Mr. BAXTER. No, sir.
If and when the fuseplug levee or the back-protection levee in Arkansas is built, the engineers will maintain the fuseplug levee in Arkansas the same as if the back-protection levee had not been built. I understand that to be the law.
Then, if that is the law, the Louisiana people will have protection after our back-protection levee has been built, s they will have whether it is built or whether it is not built. It can be either tied in or not tied in; that is a matter we are not going to say anything about; that is a matter for the engineers.
I hope that some way can be worked out to give us protection in Arkansas, because we love our homes up there as much as the people down in Louisiana love theirs. We feel that the minority up there ought to yield to the majority; therefore, we have got options for that part of the floodway, and the folks are satisfied now. That is the idea we have.
Senator MILLER. In other words, you want to have the northern section proceed along with the Morganza?
Mr. BAXTER. That is correct. Let the Morganza people and the Arkansas people build as the engineers want it.
Senator MILLER. If experience dictates that it is necessary as a further protection to either Mississippi or northern Louisiana for a diversion channel to be made there, leaving it to the discretion of the engineers as to where to run that
Mr. BAXTER (interposing). To make myself clear, after the fuseplug levee has been built to the neighborhood of the Louisiana line, then it is an engineering problem as to what becomes of the water.
Senator MILLER. Do you mean the back-protection levee?
Mr. BAXTER. The back-protection levee. That is then an engineering problem as to what becomes of the water, because we do not think there will be any more likelihood of Louisiana's having water than there would have been had not the back-protection levee been built.
Senator MILLER. Thank you, Mr. Baxter.
STATEMENT OF W. W. GRUBS, EUDORA, ARK.
Mr. GRUBs. My name is W. W. Grubs. I live at Eudora, Ark., and I am a practicing attorney.
Senator MILLER. Mr. Grubs, just make whatever statement you wish to make, first thoroughly identifying yourself for the reocrd.
Mr. GRUBS. I shall make my statement very brief, gentlemen of the committee. I think most of the territory that I have in mind covering has been covered already.
I live at Eudora, Ark., and represent a large number of property owners in the south end of the Arkansas sector of the Eudor: I own land within the spillway and also own land lying proposed guideline levee.
Looking at the map, if this guideline levee is built from Yancopin south toward the Arkansas-Louisiana line, it will tap Mason Ridge on its northern extremity about 15 or 16 miles north of the Arkansas State line. While the map shows the red line as the levee, my information from the engineers is that the east boundary at Mason Ridge will be the west guideline levee of the Eudora spillway from this point about 15 miles north of the Louisiana line to near the town of Delhi. There will be a few low places in that stretch of territory, as I understand it, and some work will have to be done.
Senator Bilbo. Do you mean on Mason Ridge?
Mr. GRUBS. I mean on Mason Ridge. Some work will have to be done by constructing the west guideline levee and building up the fuseplug section according to the provisions of the Overton bill.
We in Arkansas will sacrifice approximately 195,000 acres of land. At the same time we will protect from floods in the fuseplug section approximately 1,000,000 acres of land. For that reason we are willing and anxious to sacrifice this property in order to protect the other property.
We have been living right under that fuseplug section there for the past 10 years with practically nothing having been done on that fuseplug section.
The impression prevails down there-whether it is true or not I do not know, because as everyone in the room knows the War Department and its Corps of Engineers are rather secretive about information they give out—that in case of an emergency that fuseplug necessarily will be dynamited and that water turned in on us. How true that is, I do not know.
There is no opposition to the Eudora spillway in Arkansas. I do not think there is a landowner in the entire section who is not in sympathy with the construction of the Eudora spillway.
There has been some testimony here that I think might be misleading about those options. In other words, there has been some testimony here to the effect that some of those options might be almost 2 years old. My options were not presented to me, I am positive, more than 4 months ago, and I do not believe they are more than 3 months old. I do not have the date, of course, because I did not pay any attention. I signed them when they were brought to me.
I understand that at least 75 percent of the options have been signed and that most of those that have not been signed have not been signed because of some tangle in the title or because the owners are nonresidents, heirs, or something of that kind, and the engineers simply have not got around to contacting everybody.
Generally, however, there is no opposition to the spillway in the State of Arkansas. If this west guideline levee is built to the line of Mason Ridge, whether it is left open or closed at the Louisiana State line—that is up to the engineers—we are not objecting to that. However, it seems to me that it will give Mississippi just a little more than the Mississippi boys are giving them. It will protect almost a million acres of land in Arkansas. It will also protect this land in Louisiana, Senator Overton, west of Mason Ridge--all of that flooded territory between Monroe and Delhi down there. It will confine the floodwaters to the east side of Mason Ridge. It will give those people more.
General Ferguson's testimony was that at present about a third of that water, if left open, would flow east of the hills, and about two