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fortunes both in my section and in theirs because of backwater, and for which we have been paid nothing, in order that Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and the other areas affected might have what we consider legislation that would benefit the most people.
In our interest in flood control we have naturally looked to the United States engineers for advice and have followed that advice exclusively. When they say that for the benefit of the valley we must suffer, we have taken our medicine uncomplainingly.
Now, then, we on our side object to the abandonment of Eudora. Although Senator Overton's amendment does not mention the abandonment of Eudora, we have a definite opinion that the divorcement of these two floodways would mean the abandonment of Eudora, and, from the testimony here in this hearing, that opinion has been further confirmed.
If the United States engineers say that these two floodways are essential in order to give us complete protection, then we are not opposing Eudora, but they do have to have the interest and the cooperation of Louisiana in order that we might get the protection in the middle section, which the engineers say must come, and for that reason we are here not to antagonize Louisiana in the control of her floods, but to help in every way we can, so that they may have Morganza at whatever intake from the river the engineers might see necessary, but at the same time we think that Louisiana and Arkansas should cooperate with Mississippi in seeing that we get the protection the United States engineers say we must have in a superflood.
Now, then, it is not our desire to appear selfish. It is not our desire to antagonize. It is not our desire to make Louisiana feel that Mississippi wants protection first, but it is our fervent desire that the plans of the United States engineers be followed, or, if new plans be made, that the future plans be followed, so that if this program is completed Mississippi will have the protection that is accorded to Louisiana and to Arkansas.
If I judge the opinion of our people correctly, if in a new recommendation the United States engineers should say that Eudora is not. necessary; that it is now, because of the cut-offs, found to be not as essential, and not essential at all, as it was at the time of former reports, I think the people would take the United States engineers' opinion without a quibble.
I want to say in conclusion that we have observed the wonderful work of Senator Bilbo and that we want him to know that the people of our area are behind him 100 percent in seeing that our valley gets a like benefit-no greater benefit-than that accorded to the other States.
We concede that in view of the cut-offs, some changes might be made by the Army engineers—we are so informed-but if they continue to say that the Mississippi side should be protected in the case. of a major flood by a floodway in the vicinity of Eudora, then, in fairness to us, we think that the people of Louisiana should cooperate. and follow the advice of the engineers, and, if it could possibly be done, let us all lay our troubles at the feet of the engineers and let, them solve our problems.
Are there any questions?
Senator OVERTON. I have just one or two. You speak of the fact that these flood-control works on the main stem of the Mississippi River have increased water stages in the backwater areas in Mississippi and in Arkansas. · They have also increased water stages in the backwater areas in Louisiana, have they not?
Mr. BRADFORD. Yes, sir. We have all suffered and we have not-
Mr. BRADFORD. I am not as familiar with the flood situation in Louisiana--that is, on the Atchafalaya and others-as I am with Arkansas and Mississippi.
Senator OVERTON. For instance, the backwater area.
Senator OVERTON. As I understand it, your objection to the present bill that we are considering is that you apprehend that, if it is enacted, the Eudora would not be built under the existing law?
Mr. BRADFORD. My reason for that apprehension is that we cannot, under the present law, ever secure Eudora, if it is essential, without the cooperation of Louisiana.
Senator OVERTON. Do you think that if this present bill is not enacted the required options would be obtained in the Eudora?
Mr. BRADFORD. Well, now, Senator Overton, I would not speak for those people in the Louisiana floodway. I would not know.
Senator OVERTON. The point I want to bring out is that, in my opinion, at least, and I want to see whether you concur with me in my view, the separation of the Morganza from the Eudora would not interfere with it one way or the other.
Mr. BRADFORD. Well, we thought, and we still think, that there was a reason for tying these floodways together, and that reason was that there was more opposition in the Eudora spillway. The anxiety of the people of Louisiana with regard to flood protection would assist the program to the extent that it would see that these options were obtained, whereas if they obtained Morganza they would not aid in any way in seeing that we got Eudora. That is part of the belief that we have. I may be wrong about it.
Senator OVERTON. The apprehension that I see, reinforced by the statements made since this hearing began, is that if they are not separated it may be that both the Morganza and the Eudora will be doomed under the existing law, and neither one of them will be good. My thought is to go ahead with the one we are ready to go ahead with and then undertake to solve the other problem as best we can.
Mr. BRADFORD. From the testimony here, we see that there is a determined disposition on the part of the Eudora people not to give flowage rights, but they are absolutely confident that because of the cut-offs there is not any necessity for the Eudora floodway, and as to that I do not know, and I am only taking the word of our engineers.
Senator BILBO. That is not the opinion of the engineers?
Mr. BRADFORD. They still say in a superflood we are bound to have the floodways. As long as they say that, Mr. Chairman, we want the floodways.
Senator Bilbo. The idea you are trying to put over to the committee, and especially to your Senators and Congressmen, is that while we are amending the Overton Act to permit the immediate and expeditious building of the Morganza, at the same time we should amend the original Overton Act so as to provide for immediate application of the Eudora construction?
Mr. BRADFORD. It is out desire that we get together in some way.
Senator OVERTON. Suppose this Eudora and the Morganza are put on the same statutory basis. The provision under this bill is that 75 percent of the options must be obtained in the Morganza and the provision would be that 75 percent be obtained for the Eudora.
Mr. BRADFORD. Mr. Chairman, you are bound, if you pass the amendment, to clothe the engineers with more authority than they have under the present law.
Senator OVERTON. The 75 percent requirement does not prevent the construction of the Morganza. What do you think should be done in order to construct the Eudora ?
Mr. BRADFORD. I agree with Congressman Whittington that they should be given the right, along with the obtaining of this, to have the condemnation power. If it continues to be the idea of the engineers that they must have the flowage rights in there in order to save this territory that we represent, then give them the right to condemn.
Senator OVERTON. You said you were perfectly willing to follow the recommendations of the engineers, but the engineers recommend against condemnation. Mr. BRADFORD. Mr. Chairman, that is not an engineering question.
The question of money is a congressional question, and the method of expenditure would be exclusively an engineering question, in my opinion.
Senator OVERTON. I want to call your attention to the fact that the engineers would recommend this bill for the separation of the Morganza and the Eudora, and if we are to follow the recommendations of the engineers, why not follow them in that particular? They point out that they never did make any recommendation except that they should be built as separate units.
Mr. BRADFORD. I know that tying these together was not an engineering recommendation; it was a congressional act. The engineers, in my opinion, may have had in mind—I do not know; they do not know what we had in our minds—that the construction of the Morganza meant the abandonment entirely of the Eudora. That is something like the pleadings in a lawsuit—they did not know what the truth was. Since this hearing I believe all of us would be agreed on this question: That those in the proposed Eudora floodway anticipate the abandonment of it entirely, and that is what they hope for.
Senator Bilbo. May I read into the record at this point what the Secretary of War really says about the two spillways?
Mr. BRADFORD. Yes.
The report of the Chief of Engineers of February 12, 1935, recommending the modifications of the Mississippi flood-control project embodied in the Overton Act of June 15, 1936, contemplated that the Morganza and Eudora floodways would each be constructed independently, as and when the land rights for each floodway had been secured. The Department, therefore, has no objection to this bill permitting independent construction of said floodways
Both floodways. That is the gist of the report.
Mr. BRADFORD. As far as the Army engineers are concerned, they contemplate the construction of both floodways, because they continually recommend both floodways.
Senator BILBO. So does this report.
Senator OVERTON. There is no objection to the construction of both floodways under the existing law.
Mr. BRADFORD. It is apparent, Mr. Chairman, that Eudora cannot. be constructed under the present law, from the information we gathered here at your hearing.
Senator OVERTON. I think you are correct in that statement-at. least, not now or in the immediate future.
Senator BILBO. Without additional legislation.
Senator OVERTON. I do not know whether it will be built with additional legislation. I doubt very much whether that would happen right now. I am talking about right now.
Senator Bilbo. That is the point we are making. If you are going to build one, build both of them and do what is necessary to be done to have both built. That is what we are contending for.
Senator OVERTON. Of course, that is a matter of argument.
Since you have been testifying, I have had a memorandum containing a statement that I would like to bring to your attention in order that it may appear in the record, and that is that the Red River backwater area in Louisiana has an acreage of 1,600,000 and the Yazoo contains 1,000,000 acres. Do you know whether that is approximately correct?
Mr. BRADFORD. I am sure it must be approximately correct. I know that there is an enormous acreage in the valley that is ruined by backwater now.
Senator OVERTON (presiding). We are very much obliged to you for your contribution.
Senator BILBO. I will call Mr. Blake.
STATEMENT OF RHEA BLAKE, SECRETARY-MANAGER OF THE
DELTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Mr. BLAKE. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Rhea Blake. I live at Greenville, Miss. I am secretary and manager of the Delta Chamber of Commerce, with headquarters at Stoneville, Miss. I have a statement representing the position of our organization in this matter, and I would like to present that statement and possibly elaborate on several of the points that we have made here that probably need a little elaboration, after some of the testimony we heard.
Senator OVERTON. Very well, we will be glad to have you do so.
Senator Bilbo. Your chamber of commerce covers the entire Mississippi Delta?
Mr. BLAKE. Yes.
The Delta Chamber of Commerce is a regional organization, with headquarter at Stoneville, Miss. It represents all of the 18 counties. in northwest Mississippi which comprise the Delta section of the State.
The Delta area which it serves contains 5,000,000 acres of incomparably rich alluvial land, devoted primarily to the production of premium long staple cotton. Its half million citizens produce annually an average of approximately 1,000,000 bales of cotton, which, together with its seed, amounts to nearly one-tenth of the value of the entire cotton crop of the United States. We cite these facts so. that you may know the nature and extent of the territory which our organization represents.
Flood control, is, of course, our greatest problem. Along the 300 miles of the western boundary of our Delta flows the Mississippi River. For a century our people have battled these floods; for many years alone, and more recently with the help of the Federal Government.
Following the disastrous flood of 1927, the Federal Government assumed the responsibility of controlling the floods of the Mississippi and inaugurated a comprehensive program to give adequate protection to all the people of the lower valley, from Cairo to the Gulf.
That program has been carried forward so intelligently and efficiently by the Mississippi River Commission and the Army Engineers, that the great flood of last year, 1937, was passed safely between the levees into the Gulf. All of the people of the lower valley fully appreciate the fact that it was the work of the engineers that saved them from destruction in the emergency a year ago. We are all further aware of the fact that if the other tributaries of the Mississippi, namely, the Missouri, the St. Francis, the White, and the Arkansas, had been in flood at that time and added their waters to the unprecedented flood coming out of the Ohio, the flood-control system in its present uncompleted state would not have been able to handle the situation, and the entire lower valley would have been swept bare.
It is in recognition of these facts, that our people insist upon the immediate completion of the entire flood-control system which the Army engineers have designed to give us full protection.
The plan of the engineers calls for the construction of two floodways or diversions from the main channel of the river, because in the event of a super-flood, there will be more water passing down the valley than the levee system was designed to carry.
One of the diversions, originating near Morganza, La., is principally for the protection of the lower section of the valley. The other diversion, originating near Eudora, Ark., is principally for the protection of the middle section of the valley. The lower section, however, would benefit materially from the Eudora diversion, as would the middle section from the Morganza diversion.
The Army engineers have repeatedly stated that both the Morganza and the Eudora floodways are absolutely necessary.
The people of the Mississippi Delta have an abiding faith and confidence in the Army engineers. They have been vested with the responsibility of solving our flood problem. They are the only authority upon which we can rely in this matter.
The law authorizing the construction of the Eudora and Morganza floodways provides that 75 percent of the rights-of-way in both floodways must be obtained before either is constructed. This provision was placed in the law with the approval of the authorized representatives of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi; and the Chief of Army Engineers. The floodways were linked together because it was recognized that the rights-of-way for the Eudora would be most difficult, if not impossible, to obtain if the projects were separated.
I think your statement here the other day, Senator, confirms that point.