Page images

necessary steps to prevent future floods, by holding these waters back during high water in reservoirs upstreams as provided by the interim report of the Corps of Engineers.

When you live behind levees day in and day out with the water from 10 to 15 feet above the streets of cities like Alexandria, where a break in the levee would not only cause catastrophic damage but take a large toll of human life as well, you become very flood-control conscious, and live in continuous unrelenting fear that at any time excessive rains may set in and result in a flash flood that will cause damages that will require a decade to recover from. Red River is a wild and roying river. It is a heavy silt carrier and its banks are very unstable due to the alluvial deposit soil of the valley being about the consistency of granulated sugar when it becomes wet.

It will require the combined knowledge and skill of the United States Army engineers to make Red River safe from foods if they are authorized to execute their plans to protect this highly important and fertile valley. We citizens in the valley have confidence in the Army engineers, and it is our hope that your honorable committee will return a favorable report on this project in order that their plans may be promptly executed.

I thank you for the privilege to be heard by your committee.
Mr. ALLEN. I now present Mr. Fred C. Barksdale, of Alexandria,



ROBERTS HARDWARE & SUPPLY CO., LTD., ALEXANDRIA, LA. Mr. BARKSDALE. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I shall not consume your time, either.

May I point out that I have lived in that valley a long time, however, and have seen the devastation and the financial loss and even the loss of human life caused by the several floods 'mentioned in the general's report.

I would like to also point out that that area is very fertile and produces many, many of the products used by a hungry Nation, and hungry world, and a very fast-growing Nation.

For that reason I believe it is of very great national importance rather than of purely local interest.

I will submit this statement, Mr. Chairman, and thank you very much for your attention.

Mr. ALLEN. Thank you, Mr. Barksdale. We are glad to have your statement.

(The statement is as follows:) Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, it would be presumptuous for me to try to supplement the Army engineers' interim report on Red River Valley flood control. That excellent document gives detailed, authentic data on the physical devastation and direct financial loss to the people of a great and fertile section of this Nation. I accept as most conservative the tabulation of damages sustained. Living in the lower valley, in the heart of Louisiana, I have witnessed the several floods it mentions and the havoc wrought in their ever-widening paths. I have witnessed the pathetic plight of some of our people with all their worldly possessions-houses, crops, livestock--suddenly swept away from them, clinging to treetops while waiting for rescue.

So far we have managed to save my home city of Alexandria. But in each flood the water mounts higher than in the preceding one. Last April 1945, I saw Red River gage 10 feet higher than our downtown streets, and, for the first time in history, saw an 8-mile current run over the floor of our traffic bridge. Some of our highways and railways were abandoned, and for a time it seemed we were to be completely isolated from the outside world.

Louisiana, the funnel through which the floodwaters must pass, is richly endowed with Nature's precious gifts. Our fertile lands normally produce an abundance of the needs of a growing Nation and a hungry world. • It must be remembered that losses tabulated in the engineers' report are actual, and, I believe, most conservative. The loss of business that might have developed cannot be estimated. The property devastation and possible loss of life from a levee break in front of Alexandria staggers one's imagination.

The economic development of Louisiana and Red River Valley is being held in check by the constant menace of devastating flood threat. We have the basic factors needed to bring wide economic development-an abundance of precious raw materials, now being processed elsewhere, ample fuel, spacious industrial sites, year-round mild climate, a plentiful supply of native labor, and lands that abundantly produce the vital needs for which America and the world cry today.

Flood control in Red River Valley is not a local problem. It is a definite national need.

Mr. ALLEN. I now present Mr. Henderson, of Alexandria, La.


Mr. HENDERSON. I represent the secretary of the Red River and Atchafalaya River Board, which covers the alluvial parishes and three parishes in central Louisiana. The levee begins at the hills of Hot Wells, traverses Bayou Jean de Jean, follows the east bank of Bayou Jean de Jean where it enters Red River at Boyce. It follows the east bank of Red River below Monclau Bridge and begins with the west bank of the Atchafalaya, and goes below the Croft Springs Bridge.

Now, while we only cover three parishes of the alluvial lands, and three parishes in central Louisiana, our south bank levee protects the entire south Louisiana west of the Atchafalaya River, and I will pause a moment to pay tribute to the Corps of Engineers, as last year at Roxana, or Harris Ferry, we were threatened with a break of the River that threatened to crevasse at that point. The levee had 8 feet of freeboard, but the cutting or caving of the bank threatened the integrity of the levee line.

They moved in, and in a period of 4 days moved approximately 44,000 yards of dirt, and we had everybody from all the representatives of south Louisiana there, and they were extremely worried about that water going through the levee at that place because it endangered all of their home lands.

The Red River is an unusual river inasmuch as 1 day in a period of 24 hours from 7 o'clock one morning to 7 o'clock the next morning, that river rose 10.2 feet.

The corps has always responded and helped us, and if it were not for them, I do not know what we would do. The people in the valley are wholeheartedly in sympathy with the program outlined by the Corps of Engineers, and there is no opposition whatsoever.*

Mr. ALLEN. Thank you very much, Mr. Henderson, for that very fine statement.

Now I present Mr. J. E. Bailes, of Natchitoches, La.

Natchitoches is the oldest town in the Louisiana Purchase territory. We are very glad to have Mr. Bailes, just returned from the service.



Mr. BAILES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I represent the citizens of Natchitoches, and the Cane River Levee Board and the Natchitoches Levee Board. · While I was not in the 1945 flood, I believe it is the only one I have missed, though, since I came into the world.

Mr. ALLEN. You missed that because you were overseas fighting. Mr. BAILES. Yes, sir.

Natchitoches and Natchitoches Parish suffered an excess of over $3,000,000 damage. That is not, as we all know, the first time that Natchitoches and the Red River Valley has been ravaged by floods.

We have the utmost confidence in the plan set forth by the Corps of Engineers. The citizens of Natchitoches and Natchitoches Parish are wholeheartedly behind this program.

I think most of the other points that I have are covered in this statement which I wish to submit for the record.

(The statement is as follows:) Mr. Chairman, and members of the Flood Control Committee, it is an honor for me to appear before you this morning to present the case for the citizens of Natchitoches and Natchitoches Parish, La. I have not any intention of entering into a technical discussion of flood control.

But what I do want to do is to tell you what I actually know and have actually experienced in floods.

I do not have any personal knowledge of the 1945 flood, because I was not in the United States during that time. But I have driven over the affected areas of Natchitoches Parish and have been told where and how deep the water was at points in those areas.

My father was a Red River plantation owner. He was actively engaged in farming in 1927. We all recall the 1927 flood-it wasn't the first one nor the last one. There was a flood again in 1928, again in 1933, then the great and disastrous flood of 1945. In 1927 I saw rich valley land which produced a bale of cotton per acre flooded with 6 feet of water. When the water returned to the banks of the river there was pure sand 4 to 6 feet deep deposited on this land. In other places great gorges were eaten out by crevasses.

In our home sand was a foot deep on the floor. The house was ruined, together with all interior decorations.

The same thing happened to hundreds of farms and plantations. Some were affected to a worse extent.

In the 1945 flood in Natchitoches Parish, La., alone over $3,000,000 damage was done. Through the years Natchitoches Parish has lost tens and tens of thousands of dollars in taxes and lost profits because of depreciation in value of land. Land that is worth $100 per acre in nonfloodable areas is absolutely not worth more than $30 per acre. That, gentlemen, has cost us many, many thousands of dollars. That, in my opinion, is not a potential or intangible damage, but rather it is an actual and tangible loss and damage.

I know one plantation owner who sacrificed his plantation after the 1945 flooil. This man lost 200 head of the finest cattle to be found in the Red River Valley. On this man's plantation deep sand was deposited and where crevasses occurred great eroded areas were left and houses were left off their foundations.

This is one of many, gentlemen. The city of Natcbitoches was cut off for weeks from the outside world except by air and water. Traffic of all sorts was cut off. The busses, truck lines, and trains were stopped. I wouldn't hazard a guess as to the thousands of dollars lost by reason of the condition by the stopping of trade.

Natchitoches Parish, and for that matter, the whole Red River Valley, has been ravaged many times in the past century.

Gentlemen, we, if we survive and maintain a decent economy and standard of living, must have relief, and immediate relief.

Mr. BAILES. We of Natchitoches Parish wish to express our appreciation, and that is for the Corps of Engineers for their labors in the past, and thank them for what we know they will do in the future.

We also want to thank the senior Senator from Louisiana, Hon. John H. Overton, for his efforts and labors expended in flood control.

Also we want to express our appreciation to the Honorable Overton Brooks, the Honorable A. Leonard Allen, and the Honorable Henry Larcade for their efforts, past, present, and future.

I thank you, sir. Mr. ALLEN. Thank you very much. Are there any other witnesses? There are no other witnesses here from the Eighth District. Mr. ALLEN. At this time, gentlemen of the committee, I want Mr. Broks, my colleague from the Fourth District, toʻpresent the gentlemen from his district.


CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF LOUISIANA Mr. BROOKS. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for this opportunity.

I want to say here for the record that the chairman, Mr. Allen, has coperated with me all the way through on every bit of this project, both day and night.

I heartily appreciate very much his desire to help, and I am sure that all of the people interested in the developing of the Red River appreciate, likewise, his interest and that of our good colleague, Mr. Larcade, also from Louisiana.

Mr. Chairman, in the order in which these names were presented to me, I would like to present Mr. V. V. Whittington, of Bossier City,


Mr. Whittington represents the Bossier levee district, as president, and also he is president of the Bosiser State Bank of Bossier City. In former years, Mr. Whittington represented the parishes of Bossier and Webster in the State senate at Baton Rouge.



Mr. WHITTINGTON. I am very happy to appear before this committee. I have heard a great deal of its distinguished chairman, and I know of some of the work that has been done for further relief in Louisiana.

I want to express my appreciation to the Corps of Engineers, and a little advertisement I saw along the road came to my mind when I heard what they had reported. However, it is analogy in reverse.

I saw a sign gotten out by Burma-Shave that said:
Some people travel a mile a minute, but there ain't no future in it.

87116–46— 42

As I listened to General Crawford's report here, and let my mind revert to the times, many times that I have seen that valley flooded, I said there must be some future in it, and, General Crawford, to you and your Corps of Engineers, and our own State department of public works, and you gentlemen, who are serving so well here, I wish to express my complete gratitude to you.

I come from the parish of Bossier, and represent that levee board, together with my good friend, Edgar Fullilove, and if you will look at your map you will find that that area borders Red River on the east bank after it comes down from Arkansas for 60 miles. If you will look to the east side of that parish, you will see Bayou Bodcau, and Red Chute borders the other side, and with the two waters coming down, Bossier is inundated most every year for about from 10,000 to 30,000 acres.

It has become such a menace that the value of those valuable lands has decreased because of the jeopardy that we are continually in.

The Bossier Levee Board 40 years ago last October issued $50,000 worth of bonds, and 2 years later than that they issued another $62,500 worth of bonds, and they are 5-percent bonds, mind you, and we have been paying that interest since that time. We have levied a 5-mill tax, I think, nearly every year since that time. So let your arithmetic work a little, and you will see the vast amount of money that has been put up by the local people in that area.

We are very much gratified, and I am certainly pleased that Mr. Odom mentioned it, that the report did not take into consideration all that the local people had paid, and that this project had been delayed in comparison to other areas of like magnitude in the United States, and we are especially pleased that our Congress is becoming conscious of that vast area that needs attention.

I thank you very much for this opportunity to appear here, and I : believe we are working in the right direction, and I think it is with a 100-percent approval in that valley, and I am sure it is in the particular area from which I come.

Thank you.
Mr. BROOKS. Mr. Whittington, do you have a prepared statement ?
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Yes, sir.

(The statement is as follows:) Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I appear before you today in a dual capacity. First, I am president of the Bossier Levee Board whose duty it is to protect the land, homes, livestock, and other property in this area from being overflowed by Red River. My second reason for appearing before you is as a citizen and businessman of this area who desires my own land, home, livestock, and other property saved from floods of Red River.

Now this fear of flood is not a mythical possibility, but it is a real, tangible, muddy-water flood which destroys all that it covers, and it usually comes in the springtime when crops are young and growing, and when it is too late to plant again. Such a flood did occur in the Red River Valley in April 1945, and it did destroy a few lives and many millions of dollars' worth of property. I live in Bossier Parish which borders Red River on its east bank for a distance of 60 miles, south from the Arkansas State line to Loggy Bayou, and this parish's eastern boundary is Bayou Bodcau, which together with Red chute and Loggy Bayou, empty into Red River at our southern boundary, and this stream brings a great volume of water which cannot empty into the river when it is high. Therefore, it backs out over about one-half of Bossier. This, with direct overflow water did in April 1945, inundate about 40.000 acres of our land and did about $1,230,000 damage to this one parish. This amount of damage is the agricultural damage and does not include damages to railroads and to highways and other public property, and was furnished me by the county agent of my parish.

« PreviousContinue »