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program. We are isolated and condemned as a floodway for the general welfare of the rest of the Nation.
Mr. FERGUSON. You suggest that the Federal Government acquire these lands but you object very strenuously to the local interests acquiring them. Do you think it is possible for the Federal Government to acquire those lands without the consent of the State ?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. FERGUSON. They can go in and condemn those lands if the State agency objects?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. I do not think there is any doubt whatever about that, because it is a national problem, a Federal project.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You stated that the closing of Cypress Creek caused additional damages?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. The Cypress Creek drainage district bond issues.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I will just state again, for the record, that I have never at any time suggested that the levee on Cypress Creek or anywhere else be taken down, unless the people are compensated for any damages that they have sustained by any act of the Government.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. I am sure
Mr. WHITTINGTON (interposing). I am merely asking you if there is any difference in the measure of your damages.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. As I understand it, Mr. Whittington, you have always championed our rights to compensation; and that is the reason why we have always come to this committee with confidence and
STATEMENT OF WADE 0. MARTIN, ST. MARTINVILLE, LA.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Wade O. Martin, who desires to get away as soon as possible, has a short statement to make.
Mr. MARTIN. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, in order to save time, I have reduced my statement to writing.
My name is Wade 0. Martin and I live in St. Martinville, Parish of St. Martin, La. St. Martinville is the ancient capital of the Atchafalaya Basin, established in 1732. The basin runs through the very
heart of the historical land of Evangeline and also through the famous “ Sugar Bowl” of Louisiana.
I am neither an engineer nor a lawyer and I make no pretense of special or technical knowledge in flood-control matters. 'I am just an ordinary flood fighter, with 25 years of practical experience and a general knowledge of the complicated problem which confronts us with respect to the control of floods on the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
The Louisiana Flood Committee, which I represent, was created by a special act of the legislature and is therein designated as the official organ and mouthpiece of the State with respect to all floodcontrol matters affecting our people as a whole. This committee is composed of approximately 75 active members, all of whom are deeply concerned in the subject at issue, and most of whom are large landowners and taxpayers in various parts of the affected area in Louisiana.
With respect to engineering problems, the Louisiana Flood Committee is advised by the State board of engineers.
I might add here that, because of a difference of opinion between Mr. Klorer and Mr. Jacobs, both of the State board of engineers, that, with respect to the arbitrary designation of the width of the Eudora Floodway, that I am advised by Mr. Jacobs to the effect that the Army engineers, after having made field surveys and studied the situation more accurately, may come to the conclusion that 10 miles: is not absolutely necessary and they may, of their own accord, reduce the width. Mr. Klorer took the arbitrary position that, in his opinion 10 miles was necessary. I believe Mr. Jacob's position is the wisest and safest.
I also differ with Mr. Klorer regarding the construction of a fuseplug weir at Old River which he stated was impossible and should not be done because it would interfere with the protection and interests of the city of New Orleans. This committee has doubtless noticed that at all past hearings New Orleans had very large delegations here to represent its interests. The fact that not one single man from New Orleans has come to this hearing is an indication that New Orleans considers itself as well protected as it is possible to protect it; and I believe as does Mr. Jacobs that the construction of a fuseplug weir across Old River would be a very smart undertaking because it would do three things at one time. It would not interfere with the protection of New Orleans or any other section of the river below Old River Landing.
It would give protection except once in 25 years to the backwater area in the lower part of the Eudora Floodway or in the neighborhood of Concordia Parish. It would protect those people from backwater floods and it would dry up the Atchafalaya Basin and also the lower end of the Eudora Basin; and, in the event of a big flood, would serve as a reservoir with a capacity of something like 3,000,000 acres.
That would be a reservoir of sufficient capacity to take the crest off the river during 23 days. However, this should not be done until the Atchafalaya River has been sufficiently improved to carry a maximum flood of a million second-feet. After that is done we will have a large reservoir and great floodway for simultaneous use during emergency flood periods and no backwater area during ordinary flood periods. So on that point I agree with Mr. Jacobs.
With respect to legal questions the committee is advised by some of the best and most experienced attorneys in the valley.
After having carefully studied the Markham recommendations now under consideration by your honorable committee, and, after having held two State-wide meetings, featured by free and general discussions, and participated in by State officials, the State board of engineers, several distinguished attorneys, all Louisiana levee boards, drainage commissioners, police juries, mayors, civic organizations, and a large number of landowners in the affected areas, including the opponents who are present at this hearing, the Louisiana Flood Committee, in behalf of the State of Louisiana, approves the engineering features of the Markham recommendations, provided it is found to be impossible to obtain such reservoirs as would control the floods, and impossible to obtain funds with which to continue river improvements by cut-offs and so forth.
With respect to the issues involved, the Louisiana Flood Committee is not for or against any particular section of the State. It represents and speaks for the overwhelming majority of our peo
ple. We realize that the State of Louisiana will never come into her own until the everlasting shadows of flood menace are forever removed from the pathway of her progress. After careful consideration, we have reached the conclusion that the proposed plan, although far from perfect, more closely approaches à desirable solution of the flood control problem than the Jadwin plan, and we believe that the State of Louisiana would be greatly benefited by virtue of receiving a much larger measure of protection by the proposed modifications of the Jadwin plan. But we urge that the Eudora floodway could be eliminated by further river improvements and reservoirs.
Bearing this thought in mind, the Louisiana Flood Committee regretfully realizes that it cannot present a unanimous endorsement of the modified project, but vouchsafed the opinion that no human brain could possibly be sufficiently fertile to hatch a plan for the control of floods in the Mississippi Valley which would prove perfectly satisfactory to all concerned.
Our committee deplores the fact that General Markham incorporated in his recommendations provisions which, in the opinion of our legal advisers, would result in transferring the obligation to .control floods from the Federal Government to the States and other local agencies, and, to all intents and purposes, would effect the repeal altogether of the principle and policy of national responsibility, and that he recommends four new floodways instead of a couple of reservoirs and one-half dozen cut-offs which would eliminate the alleged necessity of the proposed Eudora floodway.
The difficulties encountered in our efforts to harmonize public sentiment in behalf of the modified plan have been greatly aug. mented by General Markhams' proposal to repeal paragraph 1 of section 4 of the Jadwin plan and to provide that no part of the modified plan shall be constructed until the States or other qualified agencies furnish the United States the rights-of-way for levee construction and the flowage rights in the four proposed floodways, which General Markham explained in his testimony as meaning that the Government would do nothing unless and until 100 percent consent and cooperation are obtained, and that the objection of any one man could and would hold up the entire program.
These proposed conditions preclude the possibility of satisfying everybody.
It is a matter of common belief:
First. That Arkansas does not have the legal machinery necessary to acquire and furnish levee rights-of-way and flowage rights under the provisions of the proposed plan.
Second. That many of our best citizens from the proposed Eudora floodway area are against this diversion on the ground that reservoirs and river cut-offs should be used instead of a destructive floodway.
Third. That the so-called “swamps” of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi are, to a great extent, man-made swamps and that cultivated and improved lands therein have been confiscated and dedicated to floods and stand out today as a sacrifice on the altar of flood control. And they are arbitrarily called “backwater areas."
Fourth. That the people in the so-called "backwater areas resent being referred to as objects of charity. They are willing and anxious to accept this modified plan, even though no compensation is provided for them, but they wish to preserve their rights under the Flood Control Act of May 15, 1928, and under the Constitution of the United States; and they believe that the restoration of a few of the reservoirs destroyed by man in mad efforts to reclaim natural swamp and marsh lands, which has resulted in drought areas, dust storms, and mud rains, would restore to them their former safety from backwater floods.
Fifth. That we cannot agree on what is or is not a backwater area and what is or is not fair compensation for the taking of private property. It is just simply impossible to satisfy everybody in any undertaking of this magnitude. Under General Markham's interpretation and explanation of his recommendations it is, and always will be, impossible to satisfy everybody concerned and to obtain 100-percent cooperation as prescribed.
Inasmuch as most of the disagreements in this cause are the direct result of General Markham's recommendation to repeal part of section 4 of the Jadwin plan, the Louisiana Flood Committee respectfully submits that the proposed repeal is unnecessary and unwise.
The Louisiana Flood Committee recommends that the repeal clause be stricken out of the Markham recommendation and that the greatest care must be taken that the basic national obligation to control floods must not be impaired.
The Louisiana Flood Committee submits that the present law and method of acquiring rights-of-way and flowage rights by agreement and compromise, where possible, and by condemnation, where necessary, have proven perfectly satisfactory and should be continued in the interest of harmony and fairness, and the prompt execution of the Nation's obligation to control floods, the latter being of paramount importance.
Great undertakings like national flood control and national recovery always create excesses of enthusiasm and antagonism. In both cases, expectations were raised that were not met, expectations that probably could not have been met under any circumstances. Mistakes were made and some of them have not been corrected, but the fact remains that the door of hope is open and we are looking toward accomplishments far better than ever dreamed of in the past. In the meantime, grave emergencies, jeopardizing the lives and properties of the people, have resulted from the execution, in part, of the adopted flood-control plan.
To say that the Flood Control Act of May 15, 1928, is imperfect is merely to repeat the history of all law.
The policy of intelligently supplementing and correcting some of the engineering imperfections of any adopted plan for flood control in line with the experiences gained in its execution, should be recognized by this committee and adopted by Congress.
That policy is recognized and followed in the execution of the N. R. A. and its virtues are too obvious to warrant further discussion.
The Louisiana flood committee, therefore, recommends that the engineers be given more freedom and greater latitude in the execution of flood-control works by the Federal Government in attempting to redeem its obligation to control the flood waters of the Nation.
The Louisiana flood committee believes that floods should be controlled by the construction of such reservoirs as would eliminate the necessity of the Eudora Floodway. In the meantime, a fair measụre of protection should be provided, which should include the construction of fuseplug levees to the 1918 grade and section as specifically provided for in the act of May 15, 1928.
In conclusion, the Louisiana flood committee is for reservoirs but accepts the Markham plan for immediate protection, pending their construction, and we respectfully submit that it is high time to get going on the reservoirs before it is too late.
But we ask that for the time being, the Eudora Floodway be abandoned, pending further river improvement work and reservoir work, but that all other engineering features of the recommendations be approved by this committee; and that, if the Eudora Floodway must be constructed, that the lands be bought outright and the people moved out.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions of Mr. Martin ?
Mr. FERGUSON. I heartily agree with that recommendation, How many cut-offs, to your knowledge, have been completed in the Mississippi River since the 1928 act ?
Mr. MARTIN. I do not know. The Chief of Engineers and some of the other engineers have testified that a few have been completed and a few are now being cut; and there are still others to be cut.
Mr. FERGUSON. And you believe that if the work is started under this 1928 plan and the new proposals, excluding the Eudora cut-off, and the same amount of money proposed to be spent on the Eudora cut-off, $103,000,000, is spent on the reservoirs on the Arkansas River and the White River, that that would be the method of control, instead of using the Eudora Floodway?
Mr. MARTIN. Yes, sir; and under those circumstances they would never use the Eudora Floodway.
The CHAIRMAN. If you recommend the abandonment of the Eudora Floodway, then, why should not the previous plug section be raised up to the 1928 grade section?
Mr. MARTIN. That is what I intended to say; the 1928 grade and section, the Eudora Floodway, to be abandoned and the cut-off work continued, and one or two reservoirs selected to take care of the difference in the flood; and I think that that would suit everybody and would leave all of us better off.
Mr. FERGUSON. You do not think that one or two reservoirs such as the Arkansas and White would take the place of the Eudora Floodway?
Mr. MARTIN. One of the engineers testified that one single reservoir in the vicinity of Little Rock, Ark., would absolutely eliminate the use of the Eudora Floodway.
Mr. FERGUSON. Yes; but he also testified that the damage and the local opposition to that would make it impossible of construction.
Mr. MARTIN. Yes; but we have records here from the Army, wherein they have stated there are quite a number of other possible reservoir sites that have been studied, and I think it would be quite easy to select a few sites that would not be too costly.