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The military rule was put in at one time by General Jackson and they picked that site because it was a high site between Memphis toward Little Rock. That area, gentlemen, they have never had any reason to have a drainage district. If you look on the map from Marked Tree south on the west bank coming on the St. Francis, you will notice the crooked bayous and sloughs that we have had. They have always been adequate. If you look north, you see that vast maze of straight lines, and that is all the drainage districts that have been put in north of us a great many years after the development of the southern end of the St. Francis Valley.
Senator McCLELLAN. You speak of these lines, these lines represent or depict drainage ditches; they extend way on up into Missouri, and this map does not show it?
Mr. SIMPSON. That is correct.
Mr. SIMPSON. That is correct. I do not have any argument with the development of the north end of the district because it has become one of the most fertile districts in the United States.
Senator CORDON. What are the main crops ?
Mr. SIMPSON. The main crops are cotton, rice, soybeans, wheat, oats, practically all of them.
Senator CORDON. What is the average rainfall ?
Mr. SIMPSON. The average rainfall in our particular basin runs from 40 to 55 inches in that area.
Now, here is exactly the position that we have placed the lower valley in. The Flood Act of 1936, these people north were hurting and they were hurting bad because they did need levees. They built these drainage ditches and they would come down and it would spread all over. After the passage of the Flood Control Act of 1936 there are several things that I would like to point out that were done with the help of the Government that has practically given these people good flood control.
Senator CORDON. At your expense to some extent?
Mr. SIMPSON. In other words, in 1936 after the passage of that act they had built a big ditch; before 1936 a private deal came in just 9 miles south of Marked Tree. In laying this ditch when it was brought in, it just was more than, well, it brought the water in so much faster than before it was put in, and the water comes through around there and covers thousands of acres of farmland.
LOCKS AT MARKED TREE
To correct that, the United States engineers came in and devised what is known as the locks at Marked Tree and the steep-cut floodway which diverted the big majority of that water that normally came down the St. Francis River about 63 miles to River Front and brought it straight through steep cut and actually made about a 40- or 45-mile cutoff. They stopped this levee system at the Poinsett County line, and, as a result, it just covered everything from the Poinsett County line south to River Front.
Then, to get some relief from that, some of the people up in there came and constructed what was known as Big Bay ditch, which was finished in 1948. That gave some relief, not as much as they expected, but it did create a tremendous problem farther south. Then below Blytheville they were having trouble on the Tyronza River. They dumped these drainage ditches in it, and in 1945 they dredged the Tyronza River and straightened it from north of Earl to just a little north of Tyronza.
In doing that, in creating these 2 channels, you might say, which they have created, at River Front where they converge, the St. Francis and the Big Bay ditch, you have a combined cross section of 20,000 square feet of those 2 channels. That is the St. Francis just north of where Big Bay ditch comes in, and the Big Bay ditch has a combined cross section of 20 000 square feet. This is figured at a 200-foot eleration, and, by the way, when we get 200-foot elevation in our country it is unusual. Just south of Wittsburgh at 200-foot elevation you have a cross section of 11,000 square feet. You can very readily see what has happened to us.
EFFECT OF FLOOD
I have here some pictures of what happened in the 1950 flood. This is a picture from River Front south to Madison. Now this is flood waters flowing over at this point and start to spill over, and it goes into these sloughs with highways and things coming across. This was not built for flood. This water pockets in here, and it stayed for 9 weeks in 1950. If you will notice right here at Parkin, just to give you a picture of the enormous amount of water we have, I have a blowup of that one section which is my home. In that picture right there, this is farm all through here about 2 miles across to here. That gives you an idea of what is happening to us, and it has happened 4 times in the past 8 years; 1945, 1949 twice, and it happened to us in 1950.
Senator McCLELLAN. That is the 1950 picture?
Mr. SIMPSON. That is the 1950 picture. Gentlemen, this has happened to us with less rainfall, 30 days previous to the flood, than we had in the big flood of 1937. We had practically the same water that we had in 1937, and the Mississippi River was 8.9 feet lower at Helena in 1950 than it was in 1937, so you can see what has happened. It is just a constant every-year affair.
Senator Cordon. How deep would you say the water was here?
Mr. SIMPSON. Offhand this water would run from my home here 10 or 12 feet. On out here it is not so deep, but it covers the land to a point where it kills every crop you have on it.
Senator CORDON. Does it leave you a pretty fair coverage of silt when it goes down?
Mr. SIMPSON. No, sir; that water is moving. Of course, it leaves some silt.
Senator McCLELLAN. This is a protecting levee here. This gives you an idea of what has happened to a valley that was comparatively safe.
Mr. SIMPSON. Right here in Parkin, I manage and look after the farm, and there is 1,600 acres. We had that in 1945 in the most perfect stand of clover, and it was done at several thousand dollars' worth of expense to get that covered. Since then the flood came in and covered it. It came back in 1949 and wiped it out, and we lost an entire cotton crop in 1949. Cotton crops and all other crops were lost in 1949.
Senator CORDON. You would not object to having this drainage problem cured by starting at the bottom and coming up?
Mr. SIMPSON. No, sir. In fact, I think that is the only cure that we will have for that.
If you will notice up here, we have this levee system that was started in 1936. You will notice the elevations up and down the St. Francis River, St. Francis, Ark., is 270, Marked Tree 195, River Front 172. When you put in this levee system which was put in from 1936 to 1951, you not only accelerate and build a higher head of water coming down on us,
take our storage areas that have been there in the past before these levees were put in there that would give them fairly complete protection, and it has made a storage area down here where it never existed before. The urgency of this thing in my outlook of it is simply this: We have had an extremely long drought. Usually those things happen in cycles so that when it gets dry it is dry, and when it starts raining it rains. If we were to have a reoccurrence of rain like there was in 1949 the loss in crops from Marianna, north to Marked Tree, and also the loss of crops from the backwater that backs up in the upper valley would many times more than pay for the entire cost of this project. Just 1 year will do it.
In 1950, this particular map I am showing you, right here there were 140,000 acres of cleared, well-developed land from this point to this point, on this picture, that went under water. There were 180,000 acres undeveloped. You can imagine a picture of a farmer sitting down there and the uncertainty he has when he puts his money into a crop and does not know at what time that thing is going to occur to him and wipe him out; that is the urgency that I see of it.
Senator CORDON. What is the nature of the land, the 140,000 acres developed and the 180,000 acres undeveloped ?
Mr. SIMPSON. The nature of the land is very good. As the timber is harvested off the land, they go into farm development. Most of this land is just as fertile, maybe a shade lower in elevation, but it is still capable of being put into crop production. It has been a very big damper on us since 1945 because of the fact that we never know when it will happen. It costs about $100 an acre to clear it and put it into cultivation. The people on that land hesitate to spend $100 an acre developing that land that may be covered once or twice a year because it is just not practicable and you cannot do it.
Senator MCCLELLAN. In fact, the area is awaiting completion of this project?
Mr. SIMPSON. Yes.
Senator MCCLELLAN. I mean people who own the land are anticipating this project; that it will be constructed, and they are withholding development on a large scale?
Mr. SIMPSON. That is right. You cannot develop it on a large scale. To us that live in the lower valley, we feel like somebody at least owes us something in getting it done in a hurry. Thank you.
Senator McCLELLAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Simpson.
STATEMENT OF HON. E. C. GATHINGS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARKANSAS
Representative GATHINGS. I want to say, Mr. Chairman, that I am most grateful to you for hearing these gentlemen from my area in Arkansas and for the opportunity you have given them of presenting this picture of the situation.
Senator Cordon. We are happy to have heard their presentation, and I am sure the committee will give it serious consideration.
The committee will now stand in recess until 10 o'clock in the morning.
(Whereupon, at 12:05 p. m., Tuesday, March 9, 1954, the subcommittee recessed to reconvene at 10 a. m. Wednesday, March 10, 1934.) CIVIL FUNCTIONS, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10, 1954
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., pursuant to recess, in room F-39, the Capitol, Hon. William F. Knowland (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding. Present: Senators Knowland, Dworshak, and Ellender.
CIVIL FUNCTIONS POWER, FLOOD CONTROL, IRRIGATION PROJECTS IN MONTANA STATEMENT OF HON. MIKE MANSFIELD, A UNITED STATES
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF MONTANA
Senator KNOWLAND. The meeting will come to order.
I wish to apologize, gentlemen, for being a little late, but I had a very important meeting to attend before coming here.
Senator Mansfield, we will be glad to have any statement that you care to make at this time.
Senator MANSFIELD. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am here this morning in behalf of various projects in the State of Montana. I do not intend to take too much of the time of this committee, because I realize how busy you are and how long you have been on these particular projects.
GREAT FALLS, MONT.
The engineers have asked for $15,000 to complete a tentative survey in the Great Falls area. I hope that this sum will be allowed in fuil because of the fact that that does present a very serious problem. Last year, Great Falls, the biggest city in the State of Montana, for a few days was entirely isolated as far as traveling by road was concerned, and the only way in or out of that place was by air.
I hope that the $700,000 requested for the Bull Hook project at Havre will be allocated. That is well on the road to completion at the present time and is needed very badly in that part of the State.