« PreviousContinue »
(The following letter, together with its enclosures, was received by the chairman from the Honorable W. F. Norrell, Representative in Congress from the State of Arkansas:)
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C., April 27, 1946. Hon. W. M. WHITTINGTON, Chairman, Flood Control Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: In connection with the report of Army engineers on improvements in southeast Arkansas, and the recent hearings on Boeuf and Tensas Rivers and Bayou Macon, Ark. and La., Mr. DeWitt Poe, chairman, Southeast Arkansas Drainage Protective Association, has sent to me the enclosed two statements in the matter. Mr. Poe and others testified orally at the hearings, and he intended to file these statements for the record. However, he overlooked doing so at the time, and I am forwarding the statements with the request that they be made a part of the record. With kind regards, Sincerely yours,
W. F. NORRELL,
STATEMENT OF R. A. PICKENS AND OTHERS
We, the undersigned landowners of Desha County, Ark., owning farm lands on the west side of drainage ditch No. 19 of the Cypress Creek drainage district, from section 14, township 9 south, range 4 west, through section 19, township 10 south, range 3 west, running some 8 miles in all along said canal bank, do hereby certify that the following statement is correct:
When said drainage ditch 19 was first constructed, it did an excellent job of draining lands on the west side and adjacent to said ditch, carrying most surface water off immediately.
During the past few years said canal has not handled our rain water as well as it did formerly, and in times of heavy rains said canal rises to such heights that it gets out of its proper banks and overflows our farm lands. On some occasions this canal overflows on our property when we do not have rains here, coming down said canal from north of us.
There seems to be an increase to the heights that this canal reaches each year and this past spring, when we should have been planting our crops on farm lands adjoining said canal 19, we were overflowed by said canal, which then reached a height some 4 inches higher than it has ever reached before. This additional water each year is evidently caused by the increased clearing of new ground above us, allowing rain water to reach the canal much quicker, and by additional water being brought into the canal by new ditches and laterals from newly improved farms north of us.
We still pay the regular taxes on our lands although the frequency of such overflows is causing us increased crop losses and the partial abandonment from cultivation of many rich fertile acres. Said frequency is increasing each year and the heights that the water reaches is increasing, Some 500 acres of excellent farm land is out of cultivation this year because of spring overflows, while the entire acreage in this small 8-mile area subject to overflow from drainage canal 19 each year is approximately 1,700 acres on the west side of and adjoining said canal.
There is no doubt that said maladjustment of the drainage along said drainage canal 19 of the Cypress Creek drainage district is creating an undue hardship on the undersigned farmers, causing financial loss each year. This periodical overflow has already caused well over a 50-percent decrease in the value of our lands in the past 15 years, when other farm lands in southeast Arkansas has shown a marked upturn in value.
If this overflow trend of canal 19 continues, some 2,000 acres of land in this one particular spot will be rendered useless within the next few years. This land is equal in potential value to any in Arkansas. Some of the lands covered by this statement were sold by their former owners for prices well below their original value.
It is our opinion that the present drainage outlets of said drainage district can never again properly and efficiently handle the volume of water brought
down said canal 19 by the vastly increased open acreage served by said canal, and that additional carry-offs will have to be created to solve this problem. There is little doubt that a proper cleaning out of said canal will help to a small extent. Sincerely,
R. A. PICKENS. MABEL WILKINS.
B. D. HOLMES,
STATEMENT OF DR. H. T. SMITH, DESHA COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER
“Carest Thou not that we perish?” When we hear this quotation we normally turn our thoughts to that storm on the Sea of Galilee and the fear of the Disciples when they awoke the Master and asked Him that question.
I gave you the above quotation having in mind a group of people in Desha County, who without help from the United States Government or some other source will never secure proper living conditions, and a number of those people will die of malaria and other preventable diseases every year. A majority of the people in Desha County do not have malaria and in the past 34 years I have seen the incidence of malaria drop from 80 percent of the rural people to about 5 or 10 percent. This 5 or 10 percent, a very small group, cannot secure, without help, living conditions under the present plan. I would like to cite you an example of what can be accomplished in securing adequate living conditions and complete elimination of malaria and typhoid. This is the War Relocation Authority camp in Desha County, built for Japanese citizens and enemies. The Federal Government is spending millions of dollars protecting people in these camps and are woefully neglecting the real American citizens in our county who are entitled to protection. Another problem with which we will be confronted in the very near future is the returning soldier with malaria and other tropical diseases and this will require supervision for quite a period of time.
The United States Public Health Service has seen fit to come into this county and has now under construction a project of drainage and mosquito control which will be a great help to the community it covers, but it does not cover the entire county. Drainage is the most important of all the means to secure better health conditions and elimination of malaria but without some help this cannot be accomplished by local taxes.
The time is ripe for making health plans for the peaceful future. Our goal is to enable every individual to attain maximum physical and mental development; to have an equal opportunity for health within the limits of inherited capacity. We seek to provide the best health service, preventive and curatire, for everyone. We are limited only by our ability to convince the people of their need for health and the ways in which they can attain it.
If we are agreed upon these objectives, we must conclude that there are practicable means of attaining them. In medical science, we are not satisfied with our present knowledge and methods. Ours is a dynamic science in which progress and change are inevitable and expected. Similarly, the social problems of medicine, the opportunities to use our newer knowledge more fully for more people, are not static. To evolve a national health program and fit together its many intricate parts requires study and free exchange of views, in order that sound group conclusions may be reached. The medical profession has the technical competence to develop a health program best suited to the needs of our Nation. It is my hope that the profession will undertake this task.
Epidemiologists constantly argue as to which disease is of greatest importance as a menace to mankind. There are advocates who mention typhus, others who emphasize influenza and the respiratory diseases; some insist that the venereal diseases are of greatest importance; but most authorities are willing to concede the palm to malaria. The history of mankind indicates that malaria may well have been responsible for the downfall of the civilizations of Greece and Rome. Malaria may not strike and kill as do yellow fever and plague, but it makes people sick. In many parts of the world it is as frequent as poverty. Altogether more people are probably affected by malaria than by any other known disease. In 1931 nearly 18,000,000 people were reported to the League of Nations to be under treatment for malaria, yet the number of those going without treatment was far greater. About 2,000,000 people every year in the United States have malaria, and about 3,000 people each year die primarily of malaria in our country.
Malaria occurs where the warmth and the dampness permit the right kind of mosquitoes to develop and where there are human beings with malaria from whom the mosquitoes may carry the infection to other people. In some countries in the United States the rates have been reported as up to 100 for each 100,000 people.
The mosquito that carries malaria is the female of the species—and in her case she certainly is more deadly than the male. Moreover, this mosquito is of a special type known as the anopheles, and not only anopheles but a special kind of anopheles : The female anopheles that carries malaria sucks human blood, and the male does not. The female anopheles that carries malaria stands with her rear elevated, whereas all other mosquotoes in the United States stand parallel to the skin when they do their biting.
The mosquitoes bite most frequently at night. They spend the daytime in dark places and houses and barns. Because these mosquitoes bite at night, the superstitution developed that night air was dangerous. The night air of Greece and Rome was dangerous, but only because it was full of mosquitoes carrying malaria.
Unluckily for mankind the mosquito is not made sick by the parasite of malaria. Two weeks after that mosquito has picked up the malarial parasite, it will have developed in the mosquito's body. The parasites must also go through a period of development in the human body before they begin causing chills and fever. They develop in the red blood cells; the red blood cells split; the parasites emerge into the blood; then the fever and the chills begin. The infected person develops the symptoms about 12 days after being bitten, although as many as 30 days may elapse.
In the campaign to protect our soldiers against malaria all over the world, many different techniques have been adopted. These include drainage of-swamps, the use of mosquito netting, mosquito proof clothing, the administration of quinine and atabrine, the use of various insecticides, and with all of this, an intensive campaign of education to warn the soldier against the danger of the mosquito. Perhaps as one of the great benefits of this war there may come an improved technic for the prevention and control of malaria-applicable en masse throughout the world. That would indeed be a blessing.
STATEMENT OF EDWIN E. HOPSON, JR., ARKANSAS CITY, ARK.
Mr. Hopson. My name is Edwin E. Hopson, Jr. I reside at Arkansas City, Ark. I have law offices at McGhee, Ark., and am a landowner interested in general farming and, with my associates, have one large farm that is given over to the production of rice.
In order to understand the conditions that confront us in Southeast Arkansas, it is necessary to refer to the map, which will show that, prior to the construction of levees, the storm waters of this area emptied into the Mississippi River during low-water periods; this condition existed until about 1920. Prior to that, the people had been constructing levees along the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, but before the Arkansas River levees could be joined with the Mississippi River levees it was found that storm-water drainage had to be completed-otherwise, Desha County would have become a lake. The levee board, together with the Cypress Creek drainage district, and with contributions made by the Department of Agriculture, caused a comprehensive drainage plan, known as the Cypress Creek drainage district, to be completed. The Government engineers required the construction of canals 19, 43, and 81 of the Cypress Creek drainage district to be completed before the closing of the Cypress Creek gap. This project was undertaken and completed, and the gap was closed.
Immediately following the completion of these two projects an era of great prosperity and development began in Desha County, and this
continued until the disastrous flood of 1927 when levees broke and all of the area known as Cypress Creek drainage district, which district includes practically all of the lands in Desha County south of the Arkansas River, was flooded. The ditches accelerated the movement of the overflow waters and this caused their silting up in places, and caused the drainage levees, in some places, to be greatly damaged. The efficiency of this storm-water-drainage area was practically ruined.
Immediately following the 1927 flood, Congress passed the Jones Act, which act authorized the construction of the Jadwin plan of flood control. This plan, among other things, provided for a fuse-plug levee from near Yancopin, Ark., to the Louisiana State line, and it was the purpose of the engineers to use this levee as an outlet for the exces. sive floodwaters of the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers. The publication of this plan completely ruined Desha and Chicot Counties, so far as future agricultural development was concerned. All loan agencies, including the Federa) Land Banks, refused to grant loans against any of the lands in this area. The injustice of this plan was soon recognized by the engineers, and by Congress, and by the people affected. Plans were immediately advocated for the changing of this plan, but the plan remained in effect until the Overton Act was passed by Congress in 1942.
Therefore, no efforts were made to repair the storm-water-drainage canals above referred to. Taxpayers defaulted in their payments of taxes; lands decreased in value, but there were no sales. After the passage of the Overton Flood Control Act, above referred to, the Government, at its own cost, restored our levees to the same grade and level as other levees, which levees now give us protection from the floodwaters of the Arkansas and Mississippi River systems.
After we have had restored canals 19, 43, and 81 it will still be necessary for the property owners to construct their own farm-drainage canals. This they cannot do until the floodwaters from Desha County, as well as the floodwaters from Lincoln and Jefferson Counties have been taken care of.
All that we are asking is that these storm waters, which formerly emptied into the Mississippi River, be diverted through the canals which are advocated in the engineers' report. Our citizens would be glad to assume the maintenance of these canals if the Government will construct them.
Lack of drainage today is keeping woods lands from being cleared, and many acres of cleared lands cannot be cultivated. Roads cannot be constructed, and many farmers cannot get their produce to market; schools cannot be consolidated, health units cannot be operated in outlying districts, families cannot attend church, and medical aid cannot be had for the sick. All this is the result of impounding within our area of the storm waters from Lincoln and Jefferson, as well as Desha Counties.
At the present time there is great need for diversification of crops, but it is impractical to plant grain crops because the storm waters that are impounded upon these lands during the early spring months destroy the chances of growing such crops. This is true of corn, oats, and hay crops. Rice is being raised on those favored tracts of land where there is some drainage during the months of March, April, and the early part of May.
countr arainen: yield.de
The soil analysis of these lands shows that they are practically the same throughout the county; all of the lands are alluvial, and in no section of the country can more productive lands be found. Our lands, when properly drained, will produce more than 1 bale of cotton per acre. Corn and oats yield as much per acre as any lands along the Mississippi River. These lands are probably the best alfalfa lands that can be found anywhere because it is not uncommon, where drainage can be had, for six crops to be cut from the same piece of land each season. Alfalfa, however, cannot be produced properly until the drainage levels have been considerably lowered. The rice in this area, as shown by Arkansas Rice Experiment Station, produces the largest yield of any lands anywhere in the State, though, as above stated, there are few farms that can be planted to rice at this time. ,
I am the special county attorney, and we have found that it is impossible to construct roads because our drainage will not permit this construction. Throughout the entire county we do not have a single county road that is passable all of the year, because these roads run through relatively low lands and the water that is emptied into this county makes the construction of roadbeds impossible. In many sections of the county roads the gravel that has been placed on them has almost completely disappeared. This condition discourages small farmers, because they cannot get their children to the schools, they cannot haul their produce to market, and they cannot procure medical attention. This is caused by lack of roads. We now have some road funds that could be expended if roads could be constructed that would remain passable throughout the year.
Many thousands of acres of cotton were damaged or completely destroyed because storm waters were impounded in the fields during the crop year 1945. There still remains many acres of cotton that have not been picked because of this condition.
Changing conditions require the use of farm machinery, if the farmer is to engage in diversification and the use of his lands so that he can produce crops which will compete with other crops throughout the country. Farm machinery cannot be successfully used because there remain low, wet places that cannot be planted during the early spring months and the farmers are generally forced to rely upon the old-time methods, which, of course, means the production of cotton; even cotton must be produced in this area by antiquated methods, rather than by the use of modern machinery, which is now being employed in other cotton-raising sections.
You no doubt have taken notice of the backward condition of our State in the matter of educational facilities. The school districts throughout the State have been notified that many of the smaller districts must be abolished, which of course means that school busses must be used. We have taken into consideration the consolidation of school districts in this county, but we are immediately met with the problem of bus transportation. Our school children cannot enjoy the privileges of other children throughout the State unless our roads can become all-weather roads.
I wish to call your attention to the geography of this county, which reveals that ditches 19, 43, and 81 pass through an area, the low end of which is more than 31,2 miles wide, and through this area must pass