Page images

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. That got 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 Morganza. 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 levees up.

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 land-the 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.”
I said, “Why?'
Senator OVERTON. Where was that gage?
Mr. BARBRE. That was at Barbre's Landing.
He said, "Whenever Morganza breaks, your flood is over."
I went over to the house to see my father, who was 78 years old.
I said to him, "Papa, the river has fallen.”
He said, "How much?”
I told him, and he said, “Morganza has broken.''
I said, “What makes you think so?
"Well,” he said, “it always does that.”

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 ÖVÉRTON. 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.


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 Morganza area when I believe that the construction of the Morganza floodway will eliminate this danger.

I think that anybody will agree with me, whether he is an engineer or not, that as a practical proposition if you get a lot of water in a certain place and can open something up to let it out, the water is going to run away and get out of the river. So, we advocate this Morganza floodway and want to see it built.

Senator OVERTON. Mr. Hamley, suppose the Morganza floodway is built and put into operation and the capacity of these cut-offs is increased and the engineers do everything that can be done toward taking care of major floods in the Mississippi River. Then after all that has been done suppose the engineers come to the conclusion that it is necessary in addition to have some kind of diversion channel south of the Arkansas River.

Do you think that after all of these works have been undertaken and experiments conducted there would be that opposition to a diversion channel south of the Arkansas River, if the engineers came to the conclusion that some kind of diversion channel was necessary there?

Mr. HAMLEY. Mr. Chairman, we are so thoroughly convincedsome of us--that when the Morganza is functioning and when the channel cut-offs are functioning properly there will be no necessity for channel diversion or a Eudora floodway, that speaking personally—and I think for most of the people whom I could say I would speak for—I believe we would possibly be willing to have any reasonable arrangement.

Senator OVERTON. They would be willing to leave it to the discretion of the engineers, after the Morganza was completed and the cut-offs were functioning, as to whether or not there should be a diversion channel south of the Arkansas?

Mr. HAMLEY. I believe they would, Senator Overton. Of course, we hope that if we ever just had to take the Eudora floodway it could be constructed in such a way as to do the least damage, and that it would be something which we would figure we could not do without and that we would probably have to have, but until we know that, we would not want to say that we believe that a flood through our country was a very fine thing.

Mr. Chairman, there is one thing that has not been brought up here, and it is what I have always called the human side of this floodway question. I would like to inject it into the record. In the floodway area in Louisiana we calculate by the Federal census of 1930 that in the eight parishes of Louisiana that are partly included in the Eudora floodway there are close to 40,000 people.

Senator OVERTON. In the Eudora floodway?

Mr. HAMLEY. Yes. That is according to the Federal census of 1930. Of course, it has been stated by the option gatherers, or those attempting to gather options, and others who favor the floodway that it would be perfectly all right to construct this floodway because the people would be paid for the land.

Senator, by this same census there are a great many less than 5,000 people who own any land in the Eudora floodway.

Senator OVERTON. I did not quite get that.

Mr. HAMLEY. I say that there are less than 5,000 people who actually own land in the Euroda floodway, but there are 40,000 people

« PreviousContinue »