Page images

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. That is recommended in this report?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. I was just getting to that.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. And that would protect something like 600,000 acres of land ?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. At a cost of about $14,000,000?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. And I wanted to ask you further: In addition to protecting the Yazoo City area, a town of 6,000 people, there are towns like Belzoni, the county seat of Humphreys County, a place of about 3,500 or 4,000 people, and a good many more smaller towns like Carter, where Mr. Thompson lives, Silver City. There are numerous towns in that backwater area?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. On the east side as well as the west side?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir. There is also in that area Myersville and other towns a lot nearer to the Mississippi River.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. Your area has contributed to the payment of levees along the Mississippi River for many years?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir. Those levee districts when they were organized, why, all of this territory was placed within either one or the other of these levee districts, and we were required to pay taxes for the upkeep of levees on the river proper just the same as any other lands in the Yazoo Delta. We have continued to do that, but we have never been able to get any protection down in this lower area. Of course, the former theory was that as soon as the mainline levees could be built up to standard grade and specification, then they would come in this backwater area and would take over our problem and give us some relief. But, of course, they did not get the levees up to grade and specification prior to the enactment of the flood-control plan in 1928, and since that time we have not been able, of course, to receive any relief in any way.

Now, the flood-control plan provides for a survey on the Yazoo River that was made by the district engineer, and that plan provided for a system of backwater levees that would protect this area. That is the plan that Mr. Whittington just spoke of a minute ago.

We do not have any money down there to do any engineering work with. We do not have any money to make any express investigation of the situation, and the only thing that we can do is to rely upon the agencies of the United States. We come here and cail your attention to the situation that exists there, and all we can do is just submit ourselves to you gentlemen's tender mercy, and we want a careful consideration of this situation, and if possible we want it provided that these backwater areas will be included in the proposed plan.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. Judge, may I ask you if it is not true that among the first plans in the Yazoo Basin to be settled were these backwater areas?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. The Yazoo Basin was settled from Vicksburg, and there are some citizens living in this area now who came into the area on steamboats and started the settlement. When the lands up in Bolivar County and Sunflower County and the other counties in the northern Yazoo Delta were canebrakes and had not been opened up to cultivation, these lands down in the lower region of the Yazoo Basin were in full cultivation. That was the starting point for the settlement in the Mississippi Delta. Those lands are just as rich as any lands in the entire Delta, and they have all more or less at one time been in cultivation, but have been forced to be abandoned on account of the water situation.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. Has the water level or water gage in the backwater area increased through the construction of levees on the main river?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir; it has been increasing annually.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. The largest flood that we ever had there prior to 1927 was the 1882 flood ?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. You have a flood mark down there in the District of Columbia left by the 1882 flood, on one of these buildings.

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. And this flood of 1927 you had substantially 10 to 11 feet higher of flood than you had 50 years ago?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. In the backwater area?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir. And I also want to call attention, Mr. Whittington, to the fact that we have two lines of railroad that run through that backwater area. There is the line of the Y. & M. V. that runs from Silver City on down to Vickburg, and the line of the Y. & M. V. that runs from Greenwood on down through Yazoo City to Jackson.

I thank you, gentlemen, and I certainly appreciate it if you all can do anything for us.

The CHAIRMAN. You have in mind that levee construction can give you protection?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. I was listening there a moment ago to what the general was saying, and you spoke something about your cut-offs. But it seems to me that the plan that is necessary for our protectionof course, that is a matter for the engineers to determine—we have gotten to the point down there now where we are not squabbling over plans. We will take anything that we can get to keep from being drowned. It seemed that the plan that has been selected by the district engineers is a plan that would start a levee on the south end of the Mississippi River Levee, which is about 10 miles above Vicksburg, and would carry that to the Yazoo River, and then proceed up the west bank of the Yazoo River to a point which would be above the backwater elevation at Vicksburg, which, as I understand, is right around 170 miles, I believe it is, from Vicksburg.

Is not that correct, Mr. Whittington? So it would be around about Morgan City.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. It is about 186 up to Greenwood. But it is substantially as the judge says.

The CHAIRMAN. If the Government should decide to build those levees, could you furnish those rights-of-way?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. In 1930, back when I was very hopeful of being able to get some needed relief, Mr. J. F. Barber, an attorney of Yazoo, and myself prepared an act which authorized the organization of this area into a district which would compare very similarly to the organization of the levee boards over on the river proper. Now, no organization has ever been perfected in this backwater area. It may be that some changes might be necessary in the act. It has been a long time since I read it.

In fact, I do not think I have read that act since along about the time of its passage, and it might be that changes would be necessary. But so far as I know, there are not any changes that would be necessary, and an organization could be perfected that could provide the rights-of-way and could provide for the maintenance of the levees after they were constructed. That is still the law of the State of Mississippi.

The CHAIRMAN. From a financial standpoint, could you furnish the rights-of-way and make the one-third contribution and the Government do the rest?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. No, sir. If we could have done that, we would have done that back in 1924 when we had the 712 million dollars actually appropriated.

The CHAIRMAN. If you get the relief, it will be necessary to 'undertake this as a Federal project?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir. Yes, sir; because we are not able to do that. You cannot sell drainage bonds now anyway.

The CHAIRMAN. That is just the point. And this is territory that is affected by the flood waters of the Mississippi River?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. And so it would be entirely proper to undertake it as a Federal project?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir; as a matter of fact, you take the silt that is on those lands that comes in there every year, and it comes from about 38 States.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. And the backwater area has moved continually until it is about 126 miles at Greenwood.

Mr. Chairman, I think we have taken probably 25 or 30 minutes altogether on the Yazoo so far. There is Mr. Thompson, of Carter, a farmer that lives down there, if you would like to have a word, Mr. Thompson.

Mr. F. Ř. THOMPSON. No, sir; I do not think I want to say any. thing. I think Mr. Montgomery has covered it very fully in his statement.

The CHAIRMAN. I will say that Mr. Thompson is from Louisiana, where he has lived since he was a boy.

Mr. MONTGOMERY. I want to say for Mr. Thompson that he could make a good statement here. He was just telling me now that unless something is done he was going to jump pretty quick, and the next time he was going to try to get into a place where it is dry.

Mr. FERGUSON. I suggest to the gentleman you go out into that dust area and you will move back to the water country.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. Is there anything further?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. I do not think there is anything further.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. Is there anything you want to ask about this Honey Island matter?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. I want to say this: We are very much interested in the construction of the headwater reservoirs. We want those. But, of course, we feel that that is not going to give us entire relief.

The CHAIRMAN. This ought to be coordinated with it?

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Yes, sir. But we have got to have coordination at the two places, the reservoirs and the backwater levee.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. Mr. Chairman, Mr. F. R. Thompson, of Carter, is here, and he concurs in the statement made by Mr. Montgomery. Do you desire to make a statement?

Mr. THOMPSON. No, sir; I feel that Mr. Montgomery has covered it.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. Mr. J. B. Williams is the city engineer of Yazoo City, and he is also here and would be very glad to make a statement.

Mr. WILLIAMS. Mr. Whittington, I believe that Judge Montgomery has covered it as fully as it can be and I would have nothing further to add.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. Mr. Williams is the city engineer of Yazoo City, the man that is talking.

The CHAIRMAN. You concur in the judge's statement? Mr. WILLIAMS, Yes, sir. Mr. WHITTINGTON. Is there anything you want to add ? Mr. WILLIAMS. No, sir; I believe not. Mr. WHITTINGTON. I ask that these gentlemen be given opportunity of preparing a written statement to be submitted in the record.

Mr. MONTGOMERY. I would like to present a written brief to be inserted in the record, Mr. Chairman. I will mail it to you.

The CHAIRMAN. We will be glad to have that; yes.

Mr. WHITTINGTON. And Mr. Thompson and Mr. Williams also will be privileged to file written statements.

We will take a recess now until 7:30 tonight here in this room.

(Accordingly, at 5:15 p. m., a recess was taken until 7:30 p. m. of the same day.

(No meeting was held at 7:30 p. m. Apr. 11, 1935, by announcement of the chairman.)


FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 1935


Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10:35 a. m., Hon. Riley J. Wilson (chairman) presiding.

will . Mr. Harry Jacobs, chief engineer for the State of Louisiana, will be the first witness.

Of course, we will be glad to have any resolution presented that anyone may have to offer.



Mr. Jacobs. I would just like to make a brief statement, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, and in my remarks I am going to be as brief as I can all the way through.

The first thing that I want to call the attention of the committee to is the reference that I made the other day to a report made by the board of State engineers in Louisiana on flood control in the lower Mississippi River, at which time all of the members of that Board concurred in the views expressed in this report, and all of them signed it. At the present time there are still three members on that board who signed that report at the time. At that time I was chief State engineer, and I signed it myself. The report was made up and submitted to the Governor on November 30, 1929, following the Jadwin report on the adopted plan of flood control by the Army engineers.

I want to call your attention again to this report. The report recommended that 11 reservoirs on the Arkansas and White Rivers would sufficiently provide for lowering the Mississippi River at the mouth of the Arkansas by about 512 feet. Had that been done, we would not have had the 1927 water, as there were 800,000 second-feet that came out of the Arkansas when the Mississippi crest was passing, and that gave us the 1927 flood.

Therefore, I again ask this committee to earnestly consider the approval of construction in a bill of these reservoirs on the White and the Arkansas Rivers, which will eliminate a superflood in that lower valley, based on work that already has been and on work that is now under way and not completed.

« PreviousContinue »