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The flood waters from these rivers have caused losses of million of dollars in property, and loss of life, and immeasurable hardships on the people residing in this district.
The flood situation is becoming more acute with each overflow of the rivers. In a recent overflow land was inundated that had never before been covered with water, this involved several thousand acres of land. Respectfully submitted.
W. A. Cole, W. L. Riskiss, E. A. McVey, J. E. Harlow, John P. Black,
W. A. Thornton, M. A. Smith, W. R. Gety, T. E. Horton, W. A.
Gayden, P. R. Dickey, U. I. O'Dannity, J. H. Roseburg.
RESOLUTION ('NANIMOUSLY ADOPTED AT TUTWILER, MISS., FEBRUARY 6, 1935 Whereas the recent heavy rains have caused a major flood on the Coldwater River; and
Whereas the waters coming from the Coldwater River and uniting with the flood waters from the Tallahatchie River, the Yocona River, the Yalobusha River, and their tributaries, have caused damage amounting to millions of dollars and have caused great loss of life; and
Whereas this damage has been continuously recurring over a period of years; and
Whereas the landowners and citizens of this flooded area have suffered such severe losses that they are unable to continue the losing fight against the flood waters; and
Whereas the flooded area is of such size and the floods occur with such frequency and intensity as to constitute a national problem: Therefore be it
Resolved, That we, the undersigned counties of Mississippi, hereby request that an allotment be made from the funds provided for public works in the United States in a sufficient amount to prepare and execute a comprehensive plan of flood and backwater control on the entire drainage area of the Coldwater, Tallahatchie, Yocona, Yalobusha, and Yazoo Rivers and their tributaries, to the point of their junction with the Mississippi River; be it further
Resolved, That a copy of this resolution be presented to the Mississippi State engineer for the Public Works Administration, to the President of the United States, and to the Mississippi Senators and Representatives in the Congress.
De Soto County Board of Supervisors, Tunica County Board of
Supervisors, Marshall County Board of Supervisors, Tate
visors. Mr. WHITTINGTON. Mr. Chairman, I ask permission to insert in the record resolutions adopted by the Board of Levee Commissioners for the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, as follows, to wit:
RESOLUTION BY THE BOARD OF LEVEE COMMISSIONERS FOR THE YAZOO-MISSISSIPPI DELTA, CLARKSDALE, MISS.
Clarksdale, Miss. Whereas the Commissioners of the Board of Levee Commissioners for the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta are deeply sensible of the tremendous loss in life and property to the people of the Coldwater-Tallahatchie-Yazoo Basin due to frequently recurring floods: Be it therefore
Resolved. That in view of this fact they realize the extreme necessity of providing immediate relief from future floods, and they deem the use of reservoirs as advocated by Congressman Whittington to be the most logical and best means of controlling floods; Be it therefore
Resolved, that this board will lend its support and influence to the end that reservoirs be constructed for the control of the waters of the ColdwaterTallahatchie-Yazoo Basin, and heartily approves the course now pursued by Congressman Whittington in advocating the plan of the United States Engineers for such control.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Now, Mr. Chairman, as in the case of St. Francis, it was my rather general understanding that both the St. Francis and the Yazoo proper would be taken up after the modifications along the Mississippi River had been disposed of, and I so advised some of my constituents as well as others who were interested, especially in the Yazoo River proper, and, for the present, Mr. Chairman, I would merely ask that the same privilege be accorded the constituents of my colleagues, Messrs. Doxey, Ford, and McGehee, in the event that they should come along, and, Mr. Chairman, I wish to point out that in the hearings of the last 6 years the representatives from the Yazoo Basin have consumed altogether not more than a few hours, and we will not consume very much time, in event that they come along, next week.
Now, Mr. Chairman, at the convenience of the committee, I desire to make a statement as the representative of the Yazoo Basin, especially with respect to the Yazoo problem, before the hearings are closed, and inasmuch as there are a number here from that area and other areas, I believe that it would be more agreeable for me to make my statement later on, probably at the same time that Judge Driver makes his statement with reference to the St. Francis.
That is all that I have now, unless anyone has any questions.
Mr. DEAR. I would like to ask a question, or to make an observation, before you leave the Yazoo.
The engineer for that district, in his statement, said that he did not know of any reason why there would be different treatment in the lands taken for the reservoirs of Mississippi and the lands taken
for flowage rights in Louisiana. In the one instance they are purchasing outright, property in Mississippi at a price of approximately $67 an acre, and in Louisiana they are
Mr. WHITTINGTON (interposing). I think that that is a fair question.
Mr. DEAR. I want that cleared up before the hearings are concluded.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I will make this statement, that the statement of the engineers speaks for itself.
My colleague, Mr. Doxey, represents those lands, and I would be glad to yield to him, if he has any statement to make; but I will say this in answer to the question, that the district engineer has stated that the Government would acquire either the fee or the flowage rights, and he stated that he did not know which would be acquired, but whichever is acquired would be used every year, overflowed every year, and the normal flow of the stream only would come through the reservoirs, and, I should say, there would be a difference in overflowing every year, and an overflowing once in 10 years or 15 years.
I would say, furthermore, that, as I understand it, the report respecting the cost of the land which has been referred to in the Yazoo Basin and in the St. Francis Basin, was submitted in 1930, and the studies were made in 1928 and 1929. I would say that generally the properties in Mississippi as well as in other sections of the lower Mississippi Valley could be acquired, whether it be in fee or flowage rights, more cheaply now than then. The district engineer gave certain valuations, but when he gave them I asked him to verify the statement in the record, because the valuations that he gave included not only the actual value of the lands which he said he might not acquire, but the values as made in 1928 and 1929 very largely, and did not include what would be paid for the flowage rights. It also included damages to some towns, and damages to other classes of property besides land.
If my colleague, Mr. Doxey, desires to make any further statement, I shall be glad for him to do that.
Mr. DEAR. I wanted to ask how that price of $67 an acre compares with the present assessed value.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I would not undertake to say, because it is in my colleague's district, but the $67 an acre was for the cultivated land, and approximately one-third of that for the uncultivated land.
Mr. DEAR. I am sure that Mr. Doxey will cover that in his statement.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Yes; and not only that, but I will go this far: I know something about lands generally in Mississippi, and I would say generally that the assessed valuation of lands in Mississippi would be as nearly two-thirds—and that applies to my district-of the actual market value of those lands as the taxing authorities can fix. I sometimes have some arguments with the assessors, but they tell me that they fix it as nearly two-thirds of the market value as they can make it.
I am rather inclined to think that that situation obtains elsewhere in Mississippi.
Mr. Doxey. There is just this question, Mr. Chairman. My committee is in session, and I will have to leave in a minute, out of
deference to this committee and to the witnesses that are here from a distance.
I want to say that I appreciate the contribution of Mr. Whittington in answer to the question of my friend, Mr. Dear. I think that your question is very pertinent and apropos, but I believe that the better way is for you and me and the other members of the committee, when this great array of witnesses have had their say, to discuss this matter in a very heart-to-heart way, and to go into these details and ramifications, and I am sure that we can arrive at a righteous conclusion.
This committee will finally report this bill, and I am sure that my position is this, that what I want to do is to get the money. That is what it takes, and I do not care to prolong this discussion as far as any statement from me at the present time is concerned.
Mr. McCLELLAN. Mr. Chairman, may I say a word? The CHAIRMAN. Yes, Mr. McClellan. Mr. McCLELLAN. I just want this cleared up: That the figure given there of $67 is not accurate. By actual calculation of the figures given here yesterday, it exceeds $70 per acre, and that is estimated for the cost of those lands.
Now, based on your statement just now, that lands there are assessed as accurately as can be by the authorities at two-thirds of the assessed valuation
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Will you pardon me? I said that that was true in the district that I represent. I would not undertake to speak for that district up there, but my judgment is that it is somewhere in the neighborhood of that.
Mr. MCCLELLAN. I am assuming that it is in the neighborhood of that, that they are assessed at two-thirds of the actual market value, and then we should expect, on that basis, to find those lands assessed on an average of $47 per acre?
Mr. WHITTINGTON. No; I would not so state, because there is only about from 40 to 45 percent of it that is in cultivation, and I stated and I have the breakdown here that in the reservoirs where the lands were valued at $67 they were the cultivated lands, but the majority were valued at approximately one-third of that amount.
Mr. McCLELLAN. Mr. Whittington, as I understood the witness yesterday, he gave the total cost of the lands that they expected to acquire, the estimated cost of the lands in the reservoir area, and he gave the total acreage involved without respect to lands in cultivation or lands not in cultivation, and, based on that figure, it averages more than $70 per acre for both unimproved and improved land, and therefore I would assume that the improved land is going to be above the $70 and the unimproved land below.
That is just an average based on the figures that he gave.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Yes, Mr. McClellan. I immediately asked him if he had what we call the “break-down”, and he said he did not.
I reminded him that I had a partial break-down in the file at the time, and that the cultivated land in the first reservoir that I picked up, in 1928 and 1929, was valued in fee at $67, and the uncultivated land at $25.
Moreover, regardless of what he or I or anybody else may say or have said, I call your attention to the report that the cost of this reservoir as reported by the Chief of Engineers, like the cost of the reservoirs in the St. Francis, now is very much less than in the original estimate.
Moreover, the district engineer, in response to your question or mine, stated that generally the land damages were around $13,000,000, with 165,000 acres involved, but let me remind you that on page 12 of the report you will find that lands and damages are estimated at $12,635,000, and I will be glad, if it is available, to get them to furnish what amount of that is intended for land and what amount is for damages.
Mr. MCCLELLAN. In that connection, what damage, in addition to the land proper and the improvements, can there be? What other damages do they speak of!
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Well, there are personal properties that may be damaged. I would say generally that if the lands are to be acquired in fee, the district would have to acquire the same rights that a power company would acquire if it went up there and built dams for the development of power, and I do not recall and do not have in mind just what the district engineer meant by personal damages, but I would say, gentlemen, that my thought is that they fixed it at the maximum, at the peak prices.
Mr. McCLELLAN. That is the thought. I cannot understand what other damages there would be. When you buy land for reservoir purposes, where would the damage to the personal property be? If there happened to be growing crops on it at the time of taking, the arrangement could be made that the crops could be taken off before the dam was constructed, so that I do not see where there would be any such damages.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I will not have any argument with you about that. Of course, if there are none, it will eliminate several million dollars from this estimate.
Mr. McCLELLAN. I cannot understand how they would include it, if there were any.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. They included damages for personal property in some cases; perhaps that it is fair to say that you and I, lawyers, might have denominated as real property.
Mr. McCLELLAN. I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not opposing their purchasing it outright, and building it just as the plan contemplates. But that is not my idea at all. The thought that I am trying to get at is this: Why the distinction and the difference in the method of acquiring it? They do not require the local interests to acquire that property, do they?
Mr. WHITTINGTON. No; and I would say this, Mr. McClellan, that the same statutory provision in the pending act obtains that obtained in the act of 1928 for acquiring the rights-of-way along the Red River and along the south bank of the Arkansas River. The statute itself requires that the Government acquire it and pay for it. In practice and in fact, my understanding has been that the local interests there do just what the local interests everywhere generally do when property is acquired for Federal purposes.
They do not condemn anything if they can possibly reach an amicable agreement, whether it be for an Army site or courthouse or a reservoir, or a post-office building.
It is fair also to say that whether a reservoir be in Mississippi or Arkansas or Louisiana, the building of a dam would constitute the