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and gather the corn that is coming along, the standing corn, and the cotton, if it happens to be above the water, and you may or may not have a crop
Mr. MCCLELLAN. Some of these gentlemen who do not come from our section where they are familiar with the term “dug-out.” Tell them what you mean by a “dug-out.”
Mr. GREGg. It is a skiff or bateau or little boat. You can paddle it with an oar. It is hewed out of a log, usually.
Mr. DRIVER. Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I would like now to have you afford Mr. J. O. E. Beck, of Hughes, St. Francis County, Ark., an opportunity to make a statement. He will discuss with you some of the conditions in the area known as the “ backwater area.
Mr. Beck is one of the largest operators in the St. Francis Valley and is thoroughly familiar with the conditions there.
STATEMENT OF J. O. E. BECK, HUGHES, ST. FRANCIS COUNTY, ARK.
Mr. Beck. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, we have a condition in the backwater area that we feel, of course, just like everybody else feels about theirs, that it is the most important. We feel there are about 330,000 acres that can be protected by a levee on route no. 1, and we see no reason why this land should be sacrified for reservoirs.
Therefore I think Mr. Williamson expressed yesterday the opinion of all of our people, and we will be very glad if you will consider his remarks. We thoroughly endorse everything he said to you.
The CHAIRMAN. We thank you, Mr. Beck.
Mr. DRIVER. Mr. Chairman, I would now like to present to the committee Mr. James Alexander, of Paragould, Green County, Ark. Mr. Alexander is also interested in the flood area of the St. Francis Basin.
STATEMENT OF JAMES W. ALEXANDER, PARAGOULD, GREEN
Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. Chairman, my name is James W. Alexander, of Paragould, Green County, Ark.
Mr. Chairman, we have had floods since 1927. That was our first big flood and it inundated the whole area in Green County next to the river, and flooded all over the railroad tracks and over the highway, and folks had to move out.
In 1928 we had another flood, and in 1929 we had the same thing. In 1930 it was a drought. In 1931 the water got up into the houses again and over the floors; in 1933 we had 31,400 acres in our county covered by water, of which 29,000 was highly improved land. It is not a reclamation project.
We have gone there, way back, and developed this land and built homes, highways, and railroads.
We have concrete Highway No. 25 between Paragould and Jonesboro. This highway has been under water several times in these floods.
This year our drainage district is out of money, and we called on our Č. C. C. camp, located on Coolis Ridge, 325 miles from this
river, and the whole camp went down there and helped us fight this water.
At the same time Missouri had its National Guard patrolling these areas, and in Missouri, in the town of Camtee, about 10 or 12 miles up on the river. Whole towns shut down to go out and fight the water. They all go out and fight the water. I will ask Mr. Jones if that is not right.
Mr. JONES. That is correct.
Mr. ALEXANDER. I had a similar experience on my place. The women go out and sing while the men and boys put the sand bags on the levee. Everybody gets into it.
There is 70 percent of our total acreage that is improved and cultivated. This land is the best land there is, and is in a high state of cultivation, in very good territory. We have nice homes with brick schools, and railroads.
In the flood of 1935, this year, we had 41,600 acres covered by water, of which 29,000 are improved, and on my land right now the water is so deep that you can not get out there in a car.
When I left, the water was this deep on the highway [indicating). My boys were using dug-outs, going over the top of the fences and over the railroad. A lot of my men are living in railroad boxcars on my place.
In 1933 there were a thousand families that moved out, or should have moved out. And there were 800 families in 1933 that moved out or should have moved out. Fifty percent of them are on relief in that area and the balance are on friends.
As to the breaks in 1933, there were three of them in our county. Break no. 1, which was 190' feet long, was in section 22, township 17, range 7 east; break no. 2 was 35 feet long and was in section 14, township 17, range 7 east; and break no. 3, which was 110 feet long, was in section 8, township 16, range 6 east.
In 1935 the condition was practically the same as in 1933, except in the case of break no. 3, which was about 1 mile southwest. In 1935 we had a break in section 22 of about 175 feet long, and that break is right up against my farm property.
Practically no State highways were covered, but practically every county highway in the flooded area was covered and all bridges were out for about 150 miles.
The damage in 1933 in Green County was estimated at approximately $150,000, and the value of the improvements in this area was $1,500,000.
Had the 1933 flood covered the same area as the 1935 flood, the damage would have been $200,000, or one-third more.
With breaks open as they are, it looks impossible to make a crop in this territory. That is very true. I have seen corn up shoulder high, cotton about 8 or 10 inches high, and the water came over it and swept it right away. These levees are inefficient. The water is getting higher every year, it seems to me.
Mr. DRIVER. What is the difference in the gage, if you know?
Mr. ALEXANDER. I have not seen the figures on the gage readings. People are living there in terror in these counties in Missouri and Arkansas and in Arkansas City, and we ask you gentlemen to try to do something for us folk down there.
We are really suffering down there. We are not trying to gouge the Government or trying to get something for nothing.
If these breaks are not fixed immediately the damage to the crops, in addition to the damage for 1935, which I have already referred to, will be $1,500,000 more, because crops will not be planted.
These Green County levees would have all gone out or been overflower if the levees above and below had broken.
These pools in the flooded districts, or the districts subject to overflow, due to these breaks, may not be able to be financed, as the banks here are financing the farmers, but do not want to take the hazard of financing those districts overflowed or subject to overflow on account of these breaks.
We have a bad situation there and we have tried to get money from the farm-loan banks and they cannot loan it to us. They say it is an unprotected area and they cannot make loans. It is pitiful down there, and it is an every year occurrence.
If you can do something for us, we will appreciate it very much.
Regarding reservoirs, anything the Government engineers recommend will be 0. K. with our people. We want some help; we want some pretty quick relief, if we can get it.
We have been wanting it for the last 5 years, and in anything the Government wants to do we will cooperate and furnish rights-ofway.
Mr. McCLELLAN. Mr. Alexander, the concrete highway that connects with the Missouri highway is Highway No. 25?
Mr. ALEXANDER. Yes; that has been under water four or five times in recent years.
Mr. MCCLELLAN. Is not that a Federal-aid highway?
Mr. McCLELLAN. So the Federal Government does have an interest in these 2 highways, 1 in Arkansas and 1 in Missouri connecting Green County and Dunklin County?
Mr. ALEXANDER. Yes, sir.
Mr. DRIVER. Now, Mr. Chairman, I would like to have the committee hear Mr. E. W. Tschudy, of Weona, Poinsett County, Ark.
STATEMENT OF E. W. TSCHUDY, WEONA, POINSETT COUNTY, ARK.
Mr. Tschudy. Mr. Chairman, I live in Poinsett County, Ark.
Gentlemen, I have not a great deal to say, after all these other gentlemen have been saying last night and this morning.
I believe I know every man from Arkansas who has testified here quite well. I also know the gentleman from Missouri quite well. I think they have made true statements.
We are lumber manufacturers and farmers. We have been farmers mostly in the last 4 or 5 years. We have farmed about 2,500 acres of land in that country.
In 1913 we went in and had that year an overflow from the Mississippi River. Since then we have had it from the St. Francis water mostly, and it has gotten higher and higher until now some of the levees built in the last 2 years, by Drainage District No. 7, as we thought, and the engineers thought, were being built high enough, and they are well built, but this last water that Mr. Armstrong told you about has gone 2 feet more over the top.
We are right in the middle of this territory, with Mr. Armstrong's territory north of us, and the territory south to the Cross County line, and all this water goes in there.
We started out there to sell our cut-over land. In 1926 we did sell 6,600 acres of that land to men who wanted to buy it, but could not pay cash for it. We sold it on time, sometimes with a small cash payment and sometimes with no cash payment.
În 1927 two-thirds of the people were driven out by the flood. In 1928 it was not quite as bad and quite a number of people came back. A few paid for the land, but the majority said they could not pay
for it. They said, “We want to rent it.”
We cleared out a great deal of the land ourselves, but conditions are as these men have told you. I live right there, and I have lived there all the time since we purchased this property.
I went all over our property in 1913 in a small boat, and since that in 1927.
We feel, and I know personally the Government engineers have been in our territory, we feel that the engineers we have had have done the best they could, and we feel that whatever the Government engineers recommend to this committee, they will mean what they say. We are willing to take their word for it. If they can give us reservoirs at the head of the St. Francis River that will slow the water down and help us and our neighbors to the south of us to have some land they can cultivate, we will be very happy to have that come about.
If they feel that that is not the thing to do, that they must gire us levees, we feel that they are doing what is right and the best thing for us.
Mr. DRIVER. Now, Mr. Chairman, I want to present to the committee Mr. Charles R. Coleman, of Osceola, Ark. Mr. Coleman is from the Little River, a tributary of the St. Francis, and one of the very important branches, with a wonderful development. He is a man of very large interests, and also a director of the St. Francis Levee District, which has charge of the levees on the main river. I would like to have Mr. Coleman make a statement to the committee at this time.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES R. COLEMAN, OSCEOLA, ARK.
Mr. COLEMAN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I am particularly interested in our Big Lake. That is a Federal bird sanctuary that starts at the Missouri line and extends south into the Mississippi Valley.
The local drainage interests made a reservoir at the Big Lake to take care of the water that is drained into our county out of the Missouri. They had some hope of reclaiming a lot of that territory and a levee was built on the east side in the middle of the old lake. We think that levee should be set back, and I think that is part of the plan, to move that levee into Big Lake. They have not any foundations there, and we are threatened with the levee blowing out. Immediately south of Big Lake is a tract or colony of 20,000 acres that the Government has put into the rehabilitation program. Adjoining that colony are 9,000 acreas that the county rehabilitation service has rented for 5 years on which to have placed 300 families that are making a crop there today. If the Big Lake levee is protected, thus the Government interests will be protected, and if Big Lake remains like it is, they, are placed in jeopardy every day by water held by insufficient levees.
I want to make a plea, if this plan can be carried out, that Big Lake be given strengthened protection.
Mr. DRIVER. There is also present today, Mr. Chairman, the chairman of the State highway commission of my State, who is very much interested in this matter, with a particular interest in the twilight zone. I would like the committee to hear a statement from Mr. Dave Block, of Wynne, Ark.
STATEMENT OF DAVE BLOCK, WYNNE, ARK., CHAIRMAN STATE
HIGHWAY COMMISSION OF ARKANSAS
Mr. BLOCK. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I represent a section of Cross County that is bordering on the north end of the so-called “backwater area.” The territory we are interested in might be designated as a semibackwater area.
We have never been submerged in this particular section only as the result of the breaks in the main-line levees in 1912, 1913, and 1927. At the present time, due to the diversion of the St. Francis River through the southern end of Poinsett County, the height of our county at the northern extremity, coming down to the St. Francis Bay, is the highest stage we have ever had, except in the years I mentioned.
Portions of that area are now submerged, but a very large proportion of the farm lands are not at this particular time.
My thought is that any form of improvement that will impound the waters from above and retard their progress will be a material benefit to practically 40,000 acres that I represent in Cross County.
As stated before, we have never had any water there except these flood waters that came from the Mississippi River. Our unfortunate brothers below us have been inundated to the extent of the loss of their crops many times, in the backwater area, when we have not been affected.
As chairman of the highway commission, I have this information that may be of some value to the area to the north. I have a report from our chief engineer, who stated that a very conservative estimate of the damage resulting from the loss of drainage structures, the damage to shoulders, and the cuts across the gravel surface would be approximately $350,000 as the result of the present flood.
Mr. DRIVER. I would like to have you make that a little more definite.
How many of the Federal-aid roads traverse this territory, beginning at the mouth of the St. Francis and extending to the Missouri and to Arkansas?
Mr. BLOCK. I cannot give you the exact mileage, Judge, but there are approximately 10 or 12 highways in that section that are in the Federal-aid system.