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the top of this levee, and we were expecting it to break every minute. At 4 o'clock that afternoon it broke on the Arkansas River. I had to summon every preacher, Catholic priest, gardeners, laborers, and others to carry sandbags to put on the levee.
In the 1937 flood I was told that we could take care of any water that would pass the Memphis gage provided we could get it below the Arkansas. But what if we had had a high Arkansas and White the same as we had in 1927?
As General Ferguson told you, in cutting these dikes here—these cut-offs—it depended on how fast the water was going down the river.
I think, as Mr. Jacobs told you, the only one that was functioning 100 percent was the Leland dike. Before the Leland dike was cut the water was 4 or 5 feet higher than on the south side, because the water had an additional 18 or 20 miles to go. I think it has been brought out that the level below the Leland dike is 8 feet lower than on the Mississippi side.
I came here as a private citizen. I am not a lawyer or an engineer. I do not know what to tell you to do in order to take care of the river, but I would merely like to ask for all the protection we can get. Every dollar I have made in my life is right in the mouth of this fuseplug levee. All of my people are right there.
Senator MILLER. Do you think that building the fuseplug levee up to the 1914 grade and section and building a back protection levee is what you would be interested in?
Mr. Lovett. Yes, sir, I feel so. Mr. Hamley told you that he has a lot of good friends in Arkansas. We have a lot in Louisiana. As I said, with the high Arkansas River in 1937, we would never know how much water we would have got. The only thing I do know is that after the 1927 break the water was over the foothills of Ashley County and the foothills of Yazoo, Miss., across the Mississippi, which is a distance of about 55 or 60 miles.
I fed 500 darkies from 1930 up until now, and I cannot take another 1937 water. Not a one of them went on relief.
I have got friends in that territory who say they are willing to leave everything to the engineers and ask Congress to give us relief. There are 195,000 acres in the Eudora floodway in Arkansas. We have obtained 140,000 or 150,000 acres in options. I took one man who represents 10,000 acres to Vicksburg last summer to sign his options. I have relatives who own property in that area, and we have options ready to sign which I will say will give them 90 percent.
Senator MILLER. You have no objection, of course, to the Mor-
Mr. Lovett. I believe Representative Whittington said yesterday that we are all the same people and want to be treated alike. As Mr. Wilson told you, we have been in the mouth of this gun for 11 years. We have not been treated right, as he told you.
I want to see all of us have protection. I am not selfish. As I told you a minute ago, we are all the same people, and as Mr. Hamley said, and want to be treated alike.
If the area in Lake Providence is not afraid of this water and they feel they can take their chances, why let them take their chances. Then if they want to come in later, if they are in a big flood, we will be glad to have them.
I want to say that we have cooperated with the Government and have got 75 percent, and we want the same relief that the Morganza is asking for. These people around Lake Providence that have all these very fine fertile lands—they are fine; I have driven over every foot of them. But they are no finer than the land I have and that my friends have in the Arkansas area.
We are not objecting to anything that they want to do that will give us equal protection in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
Senator OVERTON. In other words, you advocate protection all around?
Mr. Lovett. Yes, sir, to be fair to everyone. I am like Mr. Wilson. It has been 11 years now. They tell us that the average number of years between floods is 7 years, and we are 4 years overdue.
Senator OVERTON. The committee will stand recessed until 2 o'clock.
(At 12:25 p. m. a recess was taken until 2 p. m. of this date.)
At 2 p. m. the hearing was resumed, pursuant to recess.
Senator OVERTON (presiding). It is now 2 o'clock. The committee will come to order.
Mr. Whittington, whenever you are ready to proceed we will be glad to hear you.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM M. WHITTINGTON, THIRD DIS
Representative WHITTINGTON. Mr. Chairman, I am very appreciative of the courtesies of the committee and of the chairman.
My name is William M. Whittington, Representative, Third District, Miss., which includes substantially the Yazoo Basin in the alluvial valley of the Mississippi River.
I am now and have been for the past 13 years a member of the Flood Control Committee of the House of Representatives. I live in the central portion of the Yazoo Basin, and as a citizen and as a public official I am fairly familiar with the problem of flood control in that basin and in the alluvial valley.
The flood of 1927 demonstrated once and for all that the policy of levees only established theretofore was inadequate, and under the Flood Control Act of 1928 levees were supplemented by floodways and diversions, and I speak particularly respecting the diversions through the middle and the lower sections.
Under the act of 1928 provision was made for diverting approximately a million cubic feet through the fuseplug or Boeuf diversion. Provision was made, in the lower section south of Old River, for diverting approximately a million cubic feet, 500,000 feet on each side of the Atchafalaya.
In 1928, and continuously since, I advocated compensation for damages, including lands and flowage rights in all diversions.
The fuseplug was the result of the best compromise, respecting the diversion in the middle section, that we were able to obtain in 1928. It has not been completed, and I take it that it will not be completed and that Congress has so recognized, for two reasons, as assigned by the Corps of Engineers. They were of the view that no provision was made for compensation in the Boeuf or other fuesplug diversions under that act, because under the language of section 4 of the 1928 act, it was maintained that no additional floodwaters were conveyed through that area. That view was, I take it, recognized and approved by Congress, because in the Overton Act of 1936 provision was made for compensation in the fuseplug section on the west side of the Atchafalaya in the southern basin.
If I may be permitted to say it, Mr. Chairman, I supported and cooperated with you and the other advocates of flood control in the States affected- Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi --and with the Senators and Representatives in the passage of the Overton Act. I appeared before the committee. I advocated the terms of the act, as did Senator Overton. Our testimony speaks for itself, and I refer particularly to section 12, which authorized the Chief of Engineers to acquire flowage rights in the diversion.
During the course of the hearings, and as previously reported, the Chief of Engineers submitted an amendment that provided in substance that upon the acquiring of voluntary options for 75 percent of the values in those floodways, he would agree to condemnation for 25 percent. That was a rather long amendment. It appears in the hearings, and that amendment was grouped and was adopted as part of the Overton Act because we were unable to obtain--I speak for myself, at least—the approval of the Chief of Engineers at the time for straight power of condemnation in that area.
The two were united, not for engineering purposes, but in order to secure the authorization of both.
Senator OVERTON. Would you object to an interruption?
Representative WHITTINGTON. I would like to complete my statement and then have you ask questions, but if you would like to ask a question now, I will be glad to have you do so.
Senator OVERTON. Just for an instant.
Senator OVERTON. The suggestion of the Chief of Engineers was not to link the Eudora.
Representative WHITTINGTON. I did not state that. I was very careful not to state that.
The Chief of Engineers, as shown by pages 46 and 47 of the hearings of January 27, 1936, on the Overton bill, S. 3531, submitted an amendment in lieu of section 12 of your amendment, and that amendment provided that in each of the diversions, if there should be voluntary options for 75 percent, he would agree to condemnation for the remaining 25 percent.
The committee utilized that view and united the two, because, Mr. Chairman, it was evident then it is more evident now—that there should be no diversion or floodway primarily for the protection of another State or of another area that can be voluntarily furnished by the people whose property must be taken, so that while not united engineeringly, there was provision made for condemning flowage rights in the New Madrid area primarily to protect Cairo. There was provision made for the condemnation of lands in the Bonnet Carre spillway to protect the city of New Orelans.
My thought was in 1936, and is now, and we have tried it for 12 years, that there would never be a voluntary agreement for the
condemnation, either through the Boeuf or for the Eudora. However, in an effort to cooperate, in an effort to secure a completed project, we united the two in 1936. We never opposed the Morganza. What we were advocating was the Eudora in that act and protection for the area in Arkansas. It was thought that uniting the two-I am speaking now from my viewpoint-would better serve the interests of the entire valley because in all the years that the Federal Government has passed legislation, no matter how important it was to Mississippi or to Louisiana, the Government has never selected one city or one State and provided for the project that would give protection to that
In 1928 there was an entire project for the entire valley, and while the building of levees in Louisiana was not united with the building of levees in Mississippi, and while the floodway at Bonnet Carre was not united with the floodway at New Madrid, both were provided for; and we left with the engineers then, as I am quite content to do now, the order in which the work, should be constructed.
I might add, in all fairness, that personally I would have thought that the Bonnet Carre spillway for the protection of New Orleans would take priority over the New Madrid; that is, down near the mouth.
They were constructed, and I went over the New Madrid floodway before we built the Bonnet Carre spillway. That was referred to the engineers.
If I may be permitted to say it, I never counted dollars for Arkansas or Louisiana or any other State. Personally, I do not think the Government has spent enough in Louisiana, and I do not think it has spent enough in Mississippi. I have never complained because most of the money under the act of 1928, and I am not complaining now, was spent in Louisiana. We have twice as many levees as there are in any other State in the Union, and it should have been spent there.
I cooperated with you, sir, when you were on the committee in the House, in passing the legislation which authorized the Federal Government to pay for the first levee on a tributary. I cooperated and went on down the line and made endorsements for the set-backs, and most of it went not to Arkansas, not to Mississippi, but to Louisiana. I think it may be said that we cooperated.
Now, Mr. Chairman, we appear here because here is a bill that has been submitted after experience of 2 years.
Flood control is not static. We had the flood of 1937, and the experiences of the flood of 1937. Reference was made here by the engineers to the fact that in the Morganza, in the fuse-plug levee, there was a freeboard of 2 feet. I remind you that above the Arkansas River, in the Yazoo Basinyou gentlemen are here to speak for Arkansas-there were levees where the water was 2% feet from the top of the levees.
I am for making good all of those deficiencies, whether they be in Arkansas, Louisiana, or Mississippi.
Now, Mr. Chairman, with respect to Eudora, I believe that all, engineers and laymen, are in accord with the statement that merely divorcing those two projects will not suffice. You have got to go further. The Chief of Engineers stated that divorcing them and constructing it at 49 and not using it at 55, as it was in 1937, would not be enough. We would need legislation to give to the people of the Morganza area the relief that they are entitled to.
I think the substance of his testimony is that the same thing is true in Eudora.
As a layman, I speak with due deference to the views of the Corps of Engineers, and I have the highest regard for them. They have done a great job and in a fine way, and I am for them 100 percent.
I just believe that what has happened on the Mississippi River is a thing that happens on a small stream that flows through my place. When I straightened it, it piles water below. When we have the cutoffs, the water has gone up at Natchez and Vicksburg.
I agree with the engineers that merely divorcing them would not solve the problem. We are not here to oppose the Morganza unless Morganza destroys the Eudora or the equivalent of it. We are not trying to be selfish. I maintain that it would not be selfish of me to complain about, according to Louisiana and Arkansas, the protection to which they are entitled and at the same time not permitting me to assert the protection which my people are entitled to.
One way in which we got the act of 1936 passed was that our people were flood-minded. We had a big flood that year. It hooked up with another bill. We had a big flood in 1937.
We in Congress cannot pass a flood bill just to aid one State. We have had a flood, and the farther we get away from that flood, the less chance we have of getting legislation for it.
When we accord protection to Louisiana, the Government of the United States is not to encourage a great crevasse, such as occurred in 1927, by making no provision as recommended by the Chief of Engineers for that strategic section.
Mr. Chairman, I am just human. Facetious remarks have been made about diverting through the Yazoo Basin. There is nothing new about that. I speak as a layman. There was a diversion through the Yazoo Basin in 1927. The waters came back and recoiled and there was a break opposite Vicksburg. There was a diversion in 1912 or 1913. The waters came back at Vicksburg, and there was a break in Louisiana.
Therefore, merely diverting temporarily, if it could be done with the Yazoo Basin, would do nothing except intensify the situation opposite Vicksburg in Louisiana.
I am not going to quibble about the flood capacity of the Mississippi River, whether it was 1,500,000 cubic feet in 1927 or whether it is two million five or six hundred thousand feet now. This I know: Our Chief of Engineers, commencing with 1927, to the latest statement of the Chief of Engineers to this committee, says that there must be a diversion in the middle section and a diversion in the lower section. We are not opposing one. We are advocating both, and I do not think it would be fair of me to advocate the Eudora and not at the same time accord to you the right to advocate the Morganza.
I have high regard for the engineers, Mr. Chairman, with respect to engineering problems, to be considered in the light of scientific statements. However, I have formal reports, and the engineers tell me they are governed by their written reports to Congress rather than by the heated answers to direct examination and cross-examination; and by reference to the report of the Chief of Engineers and the report of the Mississippi River Commission in 1935, on which the Overton Act is based, it was stated that the carrying capacity of the Mississippi River between the mouth of the Arkansas and the Red was