Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

Inclosed is a part of a map of the Alluvial Valley of the Mississippi River, scale 1: 500,000, on which the extent of the overflow and the locations of the crevasses have been indicated. I trust that this is the information which you desire. Sincerely yours,

W. M. HOGE, Major Corps of Engineers,

District Engineer. Incls.

Map.

Have you recently, during the recent floods which have just receded in that territory, have you been over the ground and viewed the results of those floods?

Major Hoge. Yes, sir.

Mr. ZIMMERMAN. As compared with other floods that have occurred since 1928? You may tell the committee to what extent this river flooded this territory and the height of this flood.

Major Hoge. I have a map showing the flooded area. At St. Francis town, which is the head of this sunk land, the flood exceeded all previous heights this year. You can see where the river breaks through the Crowley Ridge up there at the head of the basin. Down at the outlet to Big Lake, which is on Little River, the flood was about three or four tenths less than the record; and down at Marked Tree, which is at the end; at St. Francis Lake, the flood was a few tenths lower than the maximum which has been experienced. The breaks occurred in the levee system; the Mingo district, which Judge Driver spoke of, was practically nonexistent. It went out all over. There were several breaks, one break between Wappapello and St. Francis town; 2 down south of St. Francis town which flooded the area down toward Piggott and Paragould and came back into the river down below Paragould. There were breaks on the opposite side above Kennett, which flooded the area around there. There were, I think, 5 breaks in there, and then there were 4 breaks down at West Kennett. There were additional breaks down below Cardwell on the St. Francis River, one on the opposite side, below Paragould. The total area flooded was approximately 300,000 acres. There were no breaks on the Little River system.

Mr. ZIMMERMAN. What do you estimate it will cost the Government to repair these breaks, as is provided in section 7 of the Flood Control Act of 1928, so as to protect this area from future floods, in the year 1935?

Major. Hoge. It will cost approximately $86,000. That was the last estimate I had.

Mr. ZIMMERMAN. From your examination, tell the committee what the condition of the levee is outside of the breaks, with reference to being damaged and in a position to break at a recurring flood.

Major Hoge. Well, the levee in many places is too close to the channel. The banks cave into it with the levee sitting on the edge of the stream. Now, with any continued erosion, cutting by the river, those levees will fall in. In other cases, the levees have been over-topped, the waters ran over the top; and in several of these levee districts, by use of sand bags, the elevation was raised a foot or more in order to hold back these waters. The entire system would have gone out had it not been for the work done in sand-bagging the top, because in many places the levee is below the elevation of this flood.

Mr. ZIMMERMAN. I believe that is all I care to ask now.

The CHAIRMAN. Are there any further questions by members of the committee for Major Hoge on the St. Francis River situation!

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Major Hoge.

AFTERNOON SESSION

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Lamar Williamson of Arkansas has asked for the privilege of addressing the committee at this time in order that he might go home, because he has some emergency call. For that reason I thought I would call Mr. Williamson now.

STATEMENT OF HON. LAMAR WILLIAMSON, ATTORNEY AT

LAW, MONTICELLO, ARK.

Mr. WILLIAMSON. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate very much the privilege of being heard at this time.

My name is Lamar Williamson, and I live in Monticello, Ark., in Drew County, in the hills just west of that part of the valley of the Mississippi River which covers Desha and Chicot Counties; but, while my home is in the hills and my little town was the refuge of four or five times our population during the 1927 flood, my business interests are practically all in Deshia County, which lies immediately south of the Arkansas River and immediately west of the fuse plug levee which has been discussed so much.

I indicate on the pay the outline of Desha County, showing that the entire county was under water in 1927.

I also have a rather large interest in Chicot County, extending south from Desha County to the Louisiana line.

I happen to be a director of a bank at Dumas, Ark., that is interested in lending money over the entire area involved. I am also a trustee, operating a 10,000-acre cotton plantation immediately west of the fuseplug levee and about the heart of Desha County.

During the course of these hearings a good deal has been said, or, rather, references have been made to pending litigation. I must confess, Mr. Chairman, that I am the goat responsible, probably, for most of that litigation. I have filed in the Court of Claims, here in Washington, for property owners in Desha County, within the old Boeuf floodway, approximately 70 suits; and, as I understand, that master complaint which I drew as a form has been followed in practically all of the suits that have been filed later. A number of suits were under $10,000, and they were filed in the District Court of the United States at Little Rock.

One of the principal reasons why I am asking for the privilege of making a statement at this time is for the purpose, before I finish, of explaining the motive behind those suits. I am hoping, Mr.

Chairman, that my lawsuits may be destroyed. I say that frankly in the very beginning.

The CHAIRMAN. You are willing to sacrifice your fee for the flood control?

Mr. WILLIAMSON. Absolutely.

And I want to say, by way of preface, that for the past year, since I was before this committee about a year ago, undertaking to learn what, if anything, could be done to restore our credit through the Federal agencies, I was up here with a delegation from southeast Arkansas; and we came to the conclusion at that time, about a year ago, that there was a good deal of misunderstanding and confusion between the various agencies of the Governmentreferring to the Army engineers on the one side and the lending agencies of the Government on the other, to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and to the Federal land banks—as to the physical facts involved. The Army engineers were assuring us that we were just as well protected as we had ever been; and the lending agencies were assuring us that we had no protection whatever.

And so we set out about a year ago to discover where we were at, if we could. So that since about a year ago I have spent most of my time in an intensive and rather extensive study of our problem I would like to say in the beginning that I concur whole-heartedly,

completely, in the very excellent statement made to the committee by Mr. Fred G. Hudson, of Monroe, La.; and I wish to undertake to pick up just where he left off, and to ask the committee to assume that I have repeated, as nearly as I can, the principles submitted to the committee by Mr. Hudson.

Now, it has seemed to me, Mr. Chairman, that there has been a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding, in the committee here especially, demonstrated between the property owners and the Army engineers; and it has occurred to me that possibly I might say something that would be helpful in dissipating some of the confusion.

I admire very greatly, deeply, and sincerely the frankness and the clear thinking and the nonpartisan attitude of our Army engineers—especially their frankness. I always admire frankness. And I am going to ask the privilege, just for a moment, of undertaking to be just as frank from the property owners' viewpoint.

Now, when I say “I” or “we” hereafter, I am undertaking to speak for all, or approximately all-of course, you never get anytħing unanimously, but for the large majority-of the property owners and taxpayers in all of Desha County, who are in the old Boeuf floodway, within the new Markham floodway, and the entire county also of Chicot County, in the old Boeuf floodway, not now included in the new plan proposed by General Markham. The viewpoint of the people in Chicot County within the Markham plan was expressed by Judge Gillison the other day.

Îmmediately upon the publication of General Markham's plan there was a mass meeting held at Lake Village, urging that the flood control committee do not build the back protection levee in Arkansas. I was at that mass meeting, and the only reason I heard in opposition to General Markham's plan for flood control in the middle section of the Mississippi River was because the citizens of Lake Village, on awakening each morning, instead of seeing a beautiful lake before their front door, feared they would see instead an ugly concrete sea wall. All those citizens can see in the Markham plan is the concrete sea wall. All of the area to the west can not understand why they should be denied protection offered to all the old Boeuf floodway merely in order that a few of their neighbors might not look upon a sea wall, and, as Judge Gillison said, in order that only 22 farms and plantations might not be annoyed by having a levee back of them.

As I said, I admire the frankness of the Army engineers. As I see it, Mr. Chairman, the apparent lack of confidence or the mistrust on the part of my people, the property owners, against the Army engineers, and of the Army engineers, in turn, against my people is really caused by clear, logical thinking, but based in each instance on a false premise. I hope as a result of these hearings those false premises that have led us into an apparent conflict for the time being may be eliminated.

Right here, unless I should forget it later on, I want to say that, so far as the engineering features of the Markham plan, as we call it, House Committee Document No. 1 of the present session, are concerned, my people accept it and rely and depend upon that engineering solution of their problem, wholeheartedly and sincerely. We endorse it and we feel that it is, to date, the best engineering solution of the problem that has been offered. We have absolute confidence in the experience and ability and training of our Army engineers; and I think that one cause of the confusion has been that we lawyers and farmers and bankers have undertaken to be engineers and express opinions on engineering problems and features, of which we know nothing.

But I think that when the Army engineers undertake to tell us what our legal rights are and to play the lawyer, the situation is just unfortunate. Now, I have admitted that in the past there has been a mistrust of leaving our legal rights to the care of engineers; and I want, very briefly, to state to the committee and to the representatives of the engineers why that “mistrust” exists.

There is a good deal of confusion and misunderstanding, and I am frankly confessing that I, myself, for my people, participate in that misunderstanding. I doubt not that some of the things that we think are true are not true.

However, I do not want to leave the impression that we of Desha County and Chicot County have not finally reached an agreement upon what would be satisfactory there to everybody, as we understand it.

In section 22 of the report of the Mississippi River Commission, which has been submitted to the present committee by General Markham, we of Desha County and all the portion of Chicot County in the old Boeuf Basin, have been very much impressed by this statement of an engineering fact, which we accept as true, because we do not know a thing about it, and, in our judgment, if we did not accept this statement of an engineering fact, then we would be guilty of foolishness.

We read in paragraph 22 of the Mississippi River Commission report the assurance to us by those whom we deem the best engineers in the world, certainly none better, this statement:

The capacity of the main-leveed channel of Mississippi River between the mouth of the Arkansas and the entrance to the Eudora Floodway is not sufficient at present to prevent a break in the levees between Arkansas River and Eudora, nor is it possible at present to predict accurately where such a break would occur in a great flood, although experiments indicate that it probably would be on the west side above Arkansas City.

We think, even as laymen, that that is obvious, because the main levees of the Mississippi River to the east have there gathered within the bottom of an artificial funnel all of the flood waters of the northern basin, to which are added the flood waters of the Arkansas and the White Rivers so that we have concentrated just above us the run-off of the entire drainage area of that mighty Mississippi, from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians, and up above, into Canada, which is gathered together in the bottom of this funnel; and the Mississippi River levee on the east bank is then curved to the right or due west, so as to direct that uncontrollable torrent of water against this fuseplug, that was designed to break; and we are, therefore, bound to accept this statement of engineering fact, that when sufficient water comes the fuseplug is bound to break and all the area indicated here in green on this map will be subject to overflow.

Therefore, the Mississippi River Commission recommends the construction of a west-side back levee to be built to the same height as the levee on the east side of the Mississippi River.

Now, it is our thought, Mr. Chairman, that the Boeuf Floodway, as designed under the present law, will not be abandoned in fact until its mouth is closed by the actual construction of that back levee.

Our only plea, so far as the engineering features of the Markham recommendations are concerned, is that we be given that relief, that the plan be executed just as quickly as is practicable from an engineering standpoint. We are not wanting to do anything or to say anything that will impede for one day the execution of the engineering features of the Markham plan.

We hope that this committee will give to the Chief of Engineers, or to the Secretary of War, not only all of the authority and all of the power suggested in the report of the Chief of Engineers for the execution of this plan, but even more authority. We think that the Congress of the United States should say to its Corps of Engineers : “ We expect you to solve this engineering problem and we give you plenary authority to do it in your own way, local interests not to be considered at all.”

Because, if this is a national problem, we cannot afford to let local selfishness interfere with the good of the whole, and if this floodway comes over my land, I am sorry, but well and good, Mr. Chairman; take it, if it will solve the problem.

Now, as to the economic features, which are within the jurisdiction of this committee and to which only can we offer any objection. The reason of our objection is that, in our judgment, as property owners and taxpayers at the mouth of either of these floodways, the engineering plan recommended by General Markham will never be carried out under his economic recommendation that the State or local interests first furnish the flowage rights, before the Army Engineers turn a hand.

I am here to undertake to explain, if the committee is interested, why I feel sure that that precedent step of the local interests furnishing the flowage rights will not be taken and cannot be taken; and, at this particular opportune moment, when the Government is

« PreviousContinue »