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I am perfectly willing to rest my case on the splendid report made by the division engineer, and by the Board of Engineers of the Rivers and Harbors, and by the Chief of Engineers.
I think that report is very full and very complete, and very accurate. If it is to be criticized, it should be criticized because it is somewhat conservative. But that is in line with the tradition of the Army engineers. They always show a conservatism that does recommend their reports to the confidence of any committee to which they submit their reports.
I was born and reared in the Red River Valley. It is a very, very fertile valley. It has a variety of crops. It has various industries. It has fine farms, plenty of livestock, towns, cities, and should be protected against the periodic innundations from which it suffers.
I remember as a boy I think one of the first pieces of hard work, at least, that I ever did manually, I do not know if I ever did any mentally, was working on the levee at Red River to protect my father's farm. I was there with ordinary laborers, and I was 8 or 9 years of age, but I had a spade and shovel, and had to work, doing the best I could.
Now, these floodwaters for some reason or other seem to be increasing. I think the reason is obvious; that is, the flood stage is increasing.
As Congressman Brooks has very well and correctly stated, in 1945 we had the highest flood of record. It caused a tremendous amount of damage.
There should be a comprehensive plan of flood control. It has been taken up piecemeal. What we need is a comprehensive plan. This is a plan that appears to me to be well suited to the needs of the Red River Valley because it combines levee protection and channel rectification and things like that with reservoirs that retard the water and keep it out of the valley during periods of flood.
I think it really does require a combination of both levee work and of the reservoirs to do the job properly.
Now, I certainly hope that this committee will act favorably on this recommendation.
Mr. ALLEN. Senator, I am sure that my colleague, Mr. Larcade, and I are going to do our best to get it approved, and we hope that the members of the committee will go along with us on it.
We are very glad to have your statement, Senator. We feel honored to have you present, and we are very happy to have your statement because of your very wide experience with this subject, and especially with the Red River situation.
Now to get along. We have some gentlemen here from the Eighth Congressional District, which I have the honor to represent.
I want to present those gentlemen for such statements as they wish to make, or file, if they wish to do so, and then it is my intention to ask Mr. Brooks, my colleague from the Fourth District, to present the witnesses from his congressional district.
We have Mr. Pyburn and Mr. Odom, of the Louisiana State Department Engineers. I suppose these gentlemen consider themselves as representing the entire State, which is the proper thing to do.
I think since Mr. Pyburn and Mr. Odom represent the State as a whole, it would be proper to have them at this time, and then I will present the gentlemen from the Eighth District.
Mr. Pyburn, do you have a statement at this time?
STATEMENTS OF DEWITT L. PYBURN, DIRECTOR; AND LEO M. ODOM,
CHIEF ENGINEER, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS, STATE OF LOUISIANA Mr. PYBURN. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Odum, the chief engineer, will present the statement.
Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Leo M. Odom, chief engineer of the Department of Public Works of the State of Louisiana.
Mr. Odom. Mr. Allen, I have a short statement here that I want to file. I have just a few remarks. : Mr. ALLEN. Your statement will be filed.
(The statement is as follows:)
STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE RECOMMENDED PROJECT' FOR FLOOD CONTROL, MAIN
STEM OF RED RIVER, TEX., OKLA., ARK., AND LA., DOWNSTREAM FROM DENISON DAM-PRESENTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS, STATE OF LOUISIANA, TO THE COMMITTEE ON FLOOD CONTROL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, APRIL 18, 1946
The Red River enters Louisiana at the northern boundary line of the State near the western boundary and runs in a southeasterly direction 370 miles in Louisiana to join the Mississippi River 301 miles above its mouth. It receives one of its main tributaries, Cypress Creek, which rises in Texas, a short distance above the city of Shreveport. All other main tributaries, enter Red River above the Louisiana line.
From the Louisiana line to near Alexandria, a distance of 250 miles the Red River averages about 1,000 feet in width and flows in a flat alluvial plain of an average width of 8 miles, flanked on both sides by low hills. Most of the population of the drainage basin in Louisiana is concentrated in this fertile valley. Below Alexandria the river traverses the broad flood plain of the Mississippi River. The river is paralled on each side throughout its length by railroads and improved highways which are important units in the transportation network of the country.
Red River has steep slopes and high velocities and a tremendous variation between flood flows and low flows. Its banks are very soft and cave rapidly. The rainfall along the river in Louisiana averages in excess of 40 inches per annum, but is very irregular with heavy storm rainfalls, when stages in excess of bankfull occur throughout the length of the river, interspersed with draughts, when the flow is so slight that only a few inches of depth are available at the crossings.
Since the earliest days of settlement along Red River levees have been constructed by the local people to prevent overflowing of their lands. At the present time most of the area above Alexandria is protected by such levees. There are nine local levee boards which include practically all of the length of the river within their boundaries.
Levee systems on Red River have two major disadvantages: First, that all of the hill and flat-land drainage must be carried into the river, which necessitates gaps in the levee line at intervals; and, second, that the caving banks constantly menace the integrity of the levee system, requiring frequent expensive set-backs and sometimes crevassing the levees and flooding the country. Another disadvantage to levee protection of the area is the fact that the type of material available for levee construction permits seepage during floods which damages the land in the vicinity of levees worse than flooding, since it takes a long time to get rid of silts that are deposited.
The danger of flooding and the menace of caving banks have been a great hindrance to the development of the valley. The railroads and highways are put to great expense to try to maintain their facilities and the cities suffer large losses in business when they become cut off.
The Red River Valley has the last large river problem in the country to be given adequate Federal control. It is a valuable asset to the United States of America with its huge mineral and agricultural production. The local people have gone their limit in trying to protect themselves and about all they are able to do now is to try to keep ahead of the river with levee set-backs and carry on in spite of the disruption of their lives and their businesses caused by frequent crevasses and backwater flooding.
The Army engineers have been studying the problems of the Red River Valley intensively for the past 10 years in order to formulate a comprehensive project for the use and control of Red River. However, there are dozens of Federal agencies to be satisfied in putting together such a project and they sometimes seem to get completely away from objectives in their determination that each one's particular field receive most consideration,
Congress recognized the fact that the delay of the comprehensive report was causing great hardship in the valley and during the disastrous flood of 1945 ordered the Army engineers to submit a separate report on flood control below the Denison Dam.
The report, so ably presented today by General Crawford, is highly acceptable to Louisiana. We are ready and able to furnish the local cooperation features required.
The Army engineers have ably recognized the difficulties of control of the floods by levees and recommended a reservoir system to provide against floods, together with bank protection and stabilization.
If the United States sees fit to invest the money recommended by the Army engineers for protection of this valley, I am sure that you will find that from a national standpoint it will be one of the best investments you ever made.
I would like to point out that this is not just a Louisiana report. Although our losses exceed those of any other State, a greater total of losses was suffered in 1945 in other States than in Louisiana. Red River is an interstate stream and its control is a problem for exceeding the abilities of the individual States.
We want to see the comprehensive project for development and control of the waters of Red River go through, finally, as much as anybody. This interim flood-control project will fit in well with such a future project.
There can be no reasonable objection, therefore, to the recommendation that the flood-control features of the future development of Red River be expedited as reported by the Army engineers. The greatest boon to the development of this valley will be relief from threat of disaster and from disaster itself such as is provided in this interim report.
Mr. Odom. The Red River, although generally mentioned, I think it would be well to point out that 374 miles of that river are in the State of Louisiana, and that along that 374 miles, 250 miles of it. runs through a valley about 8 miles wide, which is a very fertile land, and there have been formed in the past within that area nine levee boards that cover both banks of the river and all of them have built some levees.
It is out duty, as you know, to act as engineers and advisers for those boards.
One of the features of the Red River flood control that is probably a little bit different in our State from the other rivers, is the fact that this hill drainage must enter the river, and that when you build levees, you still have to leave openings for the tributary streams. We have no large tributaries below Shreveport, no major tributaries. We have some pretty important tributaries, but they are nothing to compare with the upper ones.
But all along that length in Louisiana we have these necessary openings in the levee line for the streams.
Now, there is no way in the world to keep that backwater from going back up in these openings except by an over-all reservoir proj
deal of strongest only hop
ect. That is the only hope that we have for adequate flood protection.
The strongest levees that we could build would still cause a great deal of flooding when we have these stream floods.
Mr. ALLEN. In other words, Mr. Odom, it would take levees considerably higher than the levees which are contemplated in this report to hold back the waters if we did not have the reservoirs and even then we would be in jeopardy because of the extreme high levees.
Mr. ODOM. That is right.
Mr. ALLEN. And, of course, it would send the water back up the tributary streams.
· Mr. ODOM. Yes. The higher the water is in your river, which you do raise by increasing the size of your levees and leveeing off more land, the higher it is in the river, the higher it goes back up on these tributary areas.
I think Red River must be one of the last rivers in the country, of the importance it has, to be given an over-all treatment. I think that this is a great step in our area, and I am certain that the United States it no going to find that they have made a bad investment when they give us flood protection down there, because the value is there, and if the people can be protected, that country is really going to come out.
I would like to point out the conservativeness of the Army engineers' reports in that they did not consider such things as the necessity for schools in the valley to quit operating, and those things such as towns, the business of the towns, when we have floods, necessarily suffers a great falling off, and a number of incidental disadvantages to a catastrophe like we had in 1945, that it is not readily assigned a cash value, and in computing their benefits, of course, they were unable to put that in there. Our benefits from this flood protection will be far greater than the total amount that they use to justify the project.
Mr. ALLEN. I appreciate that statement, Mr. Odom, because I think that, as Senator Overton pointed out, the Corps of Engineers was very conservative as the corps is always conservative, and rightly so. We are not saying that critically of the corps at all. We appreciate the fact that they are conservative, because the people have learned long ago that when the Corps of Engineers of the War Department says something, they have something to back that up.
I think the corps was very good, and I think there were a great many of what we call secondary damages which could have, with propriety, been taken into consideration. But we are not finding fault. We have what we think plenty of leeway as the matter stands now.
I appreciate the fact that you pointed out that only a portion of this flooded area, and his land involved is in Louisiana, that a greater amount of this land is upstream, out of Louisiana. Louisiana is by no means getting the bulk of the benefit.
Now, Mr. Odom, do you have anything else to say?
Mr. Odom. No, sir; except that more than half of the damage that occurred in the 1945 flood occurred in Louisiana.
Mr. ALLEN. I would like to call on Mr. Homer H. Harris, of Alexandria, La.
Let me say that I appreciate the fact that you gentlemen from Alexandria and Natchitoches have taken time to come up here, and assist us, and you have always been cooperative and very helpful in these matters.
STATEMENT OF HOMER H. HARRIS, SR., ALEXANDRIA, LA., CHAIR
MAN OF THE BOARD OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS OF LOUISIANA, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE RED RIVER VALLEY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION, DIRECTOR OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY ASSOCIATION
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Chairman, I have a statement that I will file., Everything is being covered so well that I do not want to take up the time of the committee to add anything to it.
However, I want to say that there is no objection from any source that I can find to this project.
Mr. ALLEN. And you think the project is a good one, and that our people are all for it?
Mr. HARRIS. Yes, sir.
(The statement is as follows:) Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, my residence and business address is Alexandria, La. I appear before you today to voice my approval of the United States Army engineers' interim emergency flood-control report for Red River below Denison Dam.
I am in position to testify from my own observations that an emergency actually exists on Red River. I have seen floods on Red River since 1912, and have worked on the levees during floods when it took every available man to fill sandbags and carry them to patch weak spots in the levee. I have stood guard, and patrolled Red River levees during flood times, and have seen the disaster that follows crevasses and breaks in the levees.
Each succeeding high water on Red River goes higher than the one before, and if we continue to depend upon levees alone, sooner or later we will face a major disaster in the lower Red River Valley.
Due to the building of additional sections of levee here and there along the river, and the resulting loss of reservoir space, and also on account of the removal of thousands of acres of virgin timber from the lands in this watershed, Red River water becomes higher each flood, and the current becomes swifter.
At Alexandria during the flood of 1945 the current in the Red River was 8 miles per hour, the water was the highest gage in history, there was water above the floor of the Alexandria-Pineville traffic bridge for many days, and there was fear the bridge would wash out. Men were required on guard 24 hours a day to keep drift from piling up against the structure, since it could not pass underneath the bridge floor. It was only by the grace of God and due to clear weather that the stretch of levee between Alexandria and Boyce on the west bank of the river did not give way. In fact the levees had to be built up during the flood by drag lines on top of those soft levees to save them.
It was only due to the availability from nearby Army camps of German war prisoner labor that the levee was saved on Bayou Jean de Jean between Zimmerman and Hot Wells, and also below Alexandria at two places. The Corps of Engineers rescued the situation by commandeering nearly all the dirt-moving machinery and trucks in the State of Louisiana to haul dirt to construct an emergency set-back levee where the river had eaten one-half of the regular levee, and had that levee broken the entire Red River Valley below, as well as all the land between Alexandria and the Gulf of Mexico would have been inundated. We believe our luck has been depended upon too long already, and favor taking