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who live in there. That means, then, that there are better than 35,000 people who live in the Euroda floodway who do not own anything. We believe that if the Eudora floodway is built and water is put down through there, it is going to mean disaster for those 35,000 and more inhabitants who are engaged in farming and who make their homes and live in that territory but who own no land.
The Eudora area is strictly an agricultural country. There is practically nothing else there with the exception of a few sawmills at Tallulah and one or two other points.
Those people are what we often hear termed as the poor people. They have nothing. They own no land; they are sharecroppers and tenants. They are Negroes and white people, more white people, I will say, than Negroes. I have always had a sympathetic feeling for those people. I shudder to think what would happen to those 35,000 people if they were thrown into a floodway and water is run into it. As I say, they would not even get enough out of it to move out of the country.
This is the human side of the thing, and that is one of the things we have been contending. There is no way in the world to take care of that kind of people. You cannot pay them, for they have no land. They are our people, and we are fighting for those people.
Senator OVERTON. Are those tenants and sharecroppers permanent residents of the Eudora, or do they go away at certain seasons?
Mr. HAMLEY. No, Senator, more have come in in recent years than have gone out.
In one section of East Carroll Parish, where I lived 12 years ago, to my personal knowledge there was cut-over timber land. Today there is a high school there that has 400 students. The school has a magnificent plant. That is the condition all over that country. It is that way in Madison, Tensas, and Concordia. The country is greatly developed, mostly by white people. These people have come in, some have bought land, some have contracted to buy land, but a great many thousands are just plain farmers renting their property.
Senator OVERTON. When you say there are 5,000 landowners in the Eudora, do you speak of the Louisiana end?
Mr. HAMLEY. I speak only of Louisiana.
there are less than 5,000 property owners. That is our estimate; we have not, of course, checked it from house to house.
Senator OVERTON. It has been suggested that it might be well to build the fuseplug levee up to the 1914 grade and section. · Have you any objection to that?
Mr. HAMLEY. Not at all, Senator. I live 14 miles from Arkansas, and some of the best friends I have live in Arkansas. I know a world of people up there, and they are at the mercy of the river elements. Every drop of water that comes through the fuseplug levee in the upper end of the Eudora area, where there is this 65 miles of fuseplug levee we have been talking about, comes down upon us.
Senator OVERTON. It has been suggested that the fuseplug levee have a width of only 35 miles instead of the present 60-odd miles. Do you have any objection to that?
Mr. HAMLEY. Not at all; I would be glad to see it fixed up based upon what has been talked about for the last 2 or 3 days.
Senator OVERTON. It has been further suggested that it might be well to construct a back protection levee west of the fuseplug levee in Arkansas to tie in with the 1928 grade and section levee at the Louisiana line or in the vicinity of the Eudora. Have you any objection to that?
Mr. HAMLEY. No; that is all in Arkansas, Senator. I reckon it is all right, if those folks up there want it, but I don't know just exactly what good it would do them, because I always just figured, in a sort of way that I might understand it, if they ever had trouble on the front, it would be penning up water for them at a levee in the back. Of course, it would do this in Louisiana: A back-line levee down as far as Mason Ridge from the Arkansas River, in case of a break in the upper end of the Arkansas levees there, and south of the Arkansas River, would certainly keep some of the water from going into the Boeuf Basin and would put it down through the Tensas Basin where I live. We would get all the water.
But I do not take any issue with anybody on that. I imagine that is all right. I do not know; I have never studied that part of the question. It would do all those things.
Senator BILBO. I have great sympathy for you people who live in this proposed Eudora sipllway because of the sentiment you attach to your homes, where you have spent your lives. Your case would be similar to that of the mountaineers who lived in the Tennessee Valley and who had to surrender their homes or surrender their lives. But they surrendered their homes at a sacrifice for the common good and welfare of the country at large.
How many times has the levee broken and overflowed that Eudora section in your lifetime?
Mr. HAMLEY. Well, Senator, I do not know, and I could not give you the exact number of times; but every 10 or 15 years—something like that, I suppose—we have had some kind of water trouble. Maybe there have been somewhat longer periods, maybe shorter periods.
Senator BILBO. Sometimes it has been very disastrous?
Senator Bilbo. You seem to have mjuch faith in the cut-offs and in the building of the Morganza. Do you think you would have any more faith in the future than you have had in the past?
Mr. HAMLEY. Senator, I firmly believe that the water would move so fast out of the Mississippi, and I know that the water level has certainly been lowered by these cut-offs up as far as Arkansas City already, that we will not have any more overflows. I believe the water can be carried between the levees.
Senator Bilbo. Would it not be good business on the part of your people in the Eudora Valley to sell their easement rights or flowage rights to the Government in order to make provision for possible superfloods, and continue to live in your homes while not having as many floods as you have had in the past? You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Mr. Hamley. Senator, that sounds all right, but it just does not work out that way. The actual fact of living in a floodway that is likely to wreck you every time the river got up
Senator BILBO (interposing). But you contend that you are not going to have that situation.
Mr. Hamley. I could go into this thing, with you, for hours. I know the history of the New Madrid floodway and know what happened to those folks up there. That is about the same kind of floodway we would have down our way. The levee was blown up there with 6 feet still to be reached at the fuse-plug point in order to protect Cairo, Ill. I am afraid they might blow up our fuse-plug to protect the other side of the river. I have a lot of confidence in most things, but there are just two or three of them I have no confidence in.
We threaten each other. We threaten to blow up Mississippi, and Mississippi threatens to blow us up, but that never happens. After all, we are the same kind of folks.
Senator Bilbo. You have actually been flooded?
Senator BILBO. You say that with the cut-offs and with the Morganza floodway you would have less severe floods in the future than you have had in the past.
Mr. HAMLEY. I hope so.
Senator Bilbo. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by permitting the Government to provide this spillway in case of an extraordinary flood or a superflood, have you?
Mr. Hamley. But, Senator, if you lived in a country where you had 22- and 23-foot high levees--and they say they are going to put a fine road on top of this levee and are going to try to drain all the rain water from the Arkansas down into Concordia Parish near the Red River through an artificial canal, and there won't be any way to cross that canal if you wanted to get over there—there are just a thousand reasons, Senator, why we do not want it.
Another thing is that you can't borrow a cent of money. A man just told me a couple of weeks ago that the Federal land bank turned him down, and I went to the agent of the bank in Lake Providence, and he said, “We wouldn't lend any money in the floodway area."
I told the man that maybe he could get a loan from the Prudential Insurance Co., and he applied to them, and they turned him down because they didn't lend any money in the floodway area.
Senator, there are a lot of things like that that we wouldn't have time to go into today.
Senator BILBO. After you get the value of that land for flowage rights you will not want to borrow money, will you?
Mr. HAMLEY. But, Senator, a lot of us have lived there all our lives, and we do not want any flowage rights. We don't want anything at all.
Senator Bilbo. You are just against it?
Senator BILBO. I appreciate your sentiment, but if Senator Miller succeeds in having his back levee built down to the Mississippi River you will not be in such a good position.
Mr. HAMLEY. Yes, but I was talking to a very good friend of mine who lives in Arkansas, and he was explaining about building this cross-levee from Mason Ridge to the Mississippi River. I was just wondering what was going to happen in that country and how they were going to figure out that the water would not run into the bottom end as well as in the top end.
That is their business. Of course, if they are going to do it, I would rather see a levee across the upper end of Louisiana, to stop it from running down on us.
Senator Bilbo. We want a levee over in Mississippi, because we think it would be disastrous to the Mississippi levees if you closed it up and ran all of that water into the Mississippi River.
Mr. HAMLEY. Senator, we are just as anxious to have flood control as anybody else. We do not sit down and say that we know how to do it but we do not want it done to us. You see, I have as much feeling for Arkansas and Mississippi folks as I have for our own. We are all the same kind of people. We all want to be protected from overflows.
There is some place where Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana can get together on this thing. I would not want to cast any reflections on the hearing, or anything like that, but I think that when folks of our kind fight, and when we are the same kind of people who live in the same kind of country and we fight and fuss about a thing like this, it is absolutely ridiculous.
Senator Bilbo. We do not want your land unless the Government pays full value. I appreciate that; after that the money cannot take the place of sentiment.
Mr. Hamley. We have in that country people who were born and reared on those same properties, and their fathers and probably their grandfathers lived there before them.
I know that a great many of those options that have been signed in there have been signed at figures that are so excessive that I doubt if the engineers would even look at them again after they once see what the figures are, but I have always figured that a man who had his home and had little houses, his barns, his fences, his pecan trees, his orchard, his garden, and all those things, was close to himself and his family. There is just a whole lot more value to that kind of property than the commercial value. I do not believe he could ever be repaid for property of that kind.
Sentor BILBO. I do not think that your 35,000 tenant farmers present any problem. I think that both Louisiana and Mississippi could absorb those people. They are just as happy in one place as they are in another.
Mr. HAMLEY. Senator, thousands of those people came from Simpson County, Miss. You know, there has been settlement in that alluvial country from the hill sections of not only Mississippi but also Louisiana and Arkansas.
Senator Bilbo. I am interested in getting them back home.
Mr. HAMLEY. I hope you do not succeed in getting them, because they are good people. I would like to try to keep them.
Senator OVERTON. I think that concludes the portion of the hearing to be devoted to statements by proponents of the bill.
Senator Miller, do you wish to present any witnesses in behalf of Arkansas?
Senator MILLER. I have five or six, and I will try to finish by 12 o'clock.
Senator OVERTON. Very well; you may call them.
STATEMENT OF LAMAR WILLIAMSON, MONTICELLO, ARK. Senator MILLER. Mr. Williamson, we are working under the lash in order to try to finish by noon. Will
be as brief as you can but at the same time say what you want to say?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Senator, I have an airplane leaving here in a very few minutes, so I am more lashed than the committee is.
Mr. Chairman, I am just a lawyer and a layman, and I am voicing the viewpoint of the property owners—the majority of them-in southeast Arkansas who have as their only protection against the floodwaters of the Mississippi River at present the fuseplug levee. I am voicing the majority viewpoint of all of the area on the map that is colored in green, which went under water in 1927, and which lies west of the fuseplug levee.
We in that area recognize that we are not engineers. When laymen and lawyers undertake to discuss engineering, just as much confusion and discord result as when engineers undertake to discuss our legal rights.
We do not know whether or not a floodway in that area is necessary. We have absolute confidence in the ability of the United States Corps of Engineers to answer that question. Whenever the engineers can tell us that no floodway is necessary and will back that assurance by building up our fuse-plug levee to the 1928 grade and section, we will be very, very happy; but as long as the Chiefs of Engineers successively assure us that we must some day take care of a million cubic second-feet of water in that area, we feel that we are entitled to some protection.
We have listened with the greatest interest and sympathy to the facts and the unanswerable logic which have been advanced by those in the Morganza area for protection. We only wish that we in Arkansas with equal humor, wit, eloquence, and unanswerable logic could present out claims, because, Mr. Chairman, they are identical.
For every reason that the Morganza area has advanced why the work in their area should proceed immediately, we in Arkansas are 100 percent interested for the same reasons. For instance, it was suggested that 8,300 bales of cotton are raised in an area that would be protected down in the Morganza were that work done immediately. Last year the area in Arkansas that is now in an uncontrolled floodway, subject to the identical hazards and human risks, produce approximately 100,000 bales of cotton.
Therefore, instead of discussing divorcement, we in Arkansas, in the north extension, should like to propose matrimony with the Morganza, because our interests are so nearly the same.
We are not, therefore, most emphatically not opposing the immediate construction of the Morganza, but we are opposing the present bill in its present form. It has been suggested from time to time that no valid or honest reason could be advanced against the support of the bill. In this very brief statement I should like to try to suggest clearly the reason that appeals to us in Arkansas for opposing the bill in its present form and then leave it to the committee to determine whether that reason is valid or honest.
The reason is simply this: It'has been practically conceded that the chance of ever building the complete Eudora floodway is nil. As has been shown by uncontrovertible and unanswerable testimony, there is