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deft in the parish of East Carroll between the spillway guide levee and the Present Mississippi River levee.
The member of the State board of engineers who has been advocating the construction of this spillway through this district with zeal rarely seen in anyone has stated in several public meetings in this area that this spillway will not be needed for more than 20 years and that it probably will not be used during that time more than once in 12 years.
In my opinion, the construction of this spillway would so dislocate conditions in the parish of East Carroll that it would completely ruin the town of Lake Providence, which, under normal conditions, is a thriving town of some 3,000 people, with two banks, both long-established and neither of which has ever failed or even been in a failing condition; and it would completely destroy the usefulness of a farming area, which in natural fertility, I believe, is not exceeded by any lands in the United States of America; and, insofar as the parish of East Carroll is concerned, it would place this whole community in much worse condition than if the whole present line of Mississippi River levees on the front were torn down and the entire parish of East Carroll turned into a floodway without guide levees.
The spillway itself would present problems which I think have received very little attention from most of our citizens, such as drainage and bridging the drainage canal, which would have to be built on the east side of the east spillway guide levee, and it would ruin the roads which we now have and those we plan building in the parish of East Carroll.
As you know, I have several plantations which would be in the spillway, and I also own plantations which would not be in the spillway. You also know that I own a plantation-and have for many years—which has a long front on the Mississippi River levee. I feel that I know a good deal about the Mississippi River, not only in a theoretical way but with that sort of knowledge which can only come from practical experience and close study of a problem in which one's vital interests are interwoven.
I feel sure that if the spillway is to be used as a spillway that the lands in the spillway will, after a year or so, be practically valueless and cannot be successfully cultivated. There could be no confidence in the farming operations on lands in this spillway if it is to be used; the psychological handicap would be such that it would be practically insurmountable—there would be no more certainty in what one might be able to do in any given crop year than there is at present in farming the lands on the river side of the Mississippi River levee; and you know that while abortive attempts have been made at this during the last 50 or 60 years there is practically no one who attempts it any more. On the contrary, if the spillway is not to be used, why should it be built and why should this community be absolutely destroyed or so crippled that absolute destruction would be preferable?
As you know, everything that I have has been made under the conditions as existing in the parish of East Carroll. You and I know, as we both have been here a long time, that conditions have been constantly improving during the ast 40 years in this parish; we both know that prior to a comparatively few years ago it was very hard to get substantial citizens from other sections interested in this area. I realize that no one is infallible but I do feel that in view of my past life, with which you are entirely familiar, I am entitled to believe that my opinion as to what will be the results of this project is more likely to be correct than the opinion of someone who has not been situated as I have been.
I can very well understand the position of those who having unproductive lands in this spillway area are in favor of its construction because they believe thereby they will be able to make a favorable sale; I can also understand why those who having no vital interest in this community and having little or nothing to lose favor the construction of this spillway because they believe in some way that they will get some of the money which is to be spent in its construction; but I cannot understand how anyone who resides in the parish of East Carroll and has a real interest in the community and its future welfare can help but see the complete disaster which would result to the parish of East Carroll by the construction of this proposed spillway.
I believe that the lands in the spillway would after a few years be owned either by the State Government through tax adjudications or the United States Government by condemnation proceedings; in either event, practically all of said lands after a year or so would not be subject to taxation, with the result that the small area in the parish of East Carroll left between the spillway guide levee and the Mississippi River levee would have to bear the entire burden of taxation necessary to retire the present bonded indebtedness of the parish and drainage districts and also the maintenance of parish government; which burden under such conditions would be confiscatory.
We have seen this community subjected to disasters in the past, such overflows, the severe yellow-fever epidemic of 1905, and so forth, but, in my opinion all these disasters which both you and I have seen during our lives afflict this area, if rolled into one, would not be comparable to the destructive influences which would result to the parish of East Carroll if this proposed spillway is constructed. Very truly yours,
W. D. BROWN.
AMERION COTTON COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION,
New Orleans, La. Sen. JOSEPH E. RANSDELL, Chairman Northeast Louisiana Protective Association,
Lake Providence, La. DEAR SENATOR RANSDELL : As a citizen and taxpayer of East Carroll Parish, I feel I would not be fulfilling my duty without expressing to you and to the Flood Control Committee in Congress my opposition, and some of the reasons therefor, to the so-called Eudora Spillway” project as recommended by the report of the United States Engineers as transmitted to Congress.
As you know, I am no engineer. However, I have lived behind the levees for the past 30 years and have done my part in fighting the flood waters of the Mississippi River during every high water which has occurred during that period. For about 20 years I was engaged in building levees in the southeast Arkansas territory and through Louisiana, in the Third and Fourth Mississippi River Engineer Districts; therefore, I am thoroughly familiar with the area affected by the proposed floodway and the main-line levees from the mouth of the Arkansas to Old River.
During the 1927 high-water fight I was in charge of the levees on the Louisiana side, representing Major Lee, who was then in charge of the Third United States Engineers District, also the Fifth Louisiana Levee District as far south as the Third United States Engineers District extends, which is a few miles below Delta Point. I lived on a houseboat during those weeks, day and night, and had reports from the entire line of levee over which I had charge every few minutes during those critical days when practically the whole valley was under water.
This, I realize, is of no consequence from an engineering standpoint, as it affects flood control in a general way, but I simply want to call your attention to this to let you know some of the practical experiences I have had, which I believe might be of some value when we consider the practical aspects of the situation, and also might lend some force to the observations I may call to your attention bearing upon the subject.
My keen interest may also be explained by the fact that every dollar I have ever earned is invested in farm lands in this parish. One farm, consisting of 1,300 acres, is entirely within the proposed floodway as recommended by the Engineers' report, and another farm of 3,300 acres is outside of the proposed floodway, the Eastern Guide Levee running some 2 miles west of it. Therefore, I am interested personally, both as a landowner in the proposed: floodway and as one protected by the floodway, if it proves to be a protection.
I am opposed to this project, first, on the ground that it is not needed if the Engineers' estimate of the effects of cutting off the bends in the river between the mouth of the Arkansas and the Red is anywhere near correct. Second, that the destruction of property and the disorganization of our social and economic life is not justified when this project is purported to take care of superfloods, which might occur once in 12 or 15 years and which might never occur, if the plans of the Mississippi River Commission are carried out and the remaining few cut-offs are completed below the mouth of the Arkansas.
It is natural that the value of the lands within the proposed floodway will be materially reduced for taxing purposes, because they will only be protected to 51 feet on the Vicksburg gage, whereas lands outside of the floodway will be protected to approximately 60 feet. Therefore, the lands outside of the floodway have to bear additional tax burdens sufficient to take care of our local government as well as outstanding obligations. Our levee district has outstanding bonded debts as well as the parish drainage and school districts. These levee, highway, school, and drainage bonds must be paid at maturity, and my belief is that the property outside of the floodway cannot stand the additional tax burden which would be necessary to meet these obligations.
The proposed capacity of the floodway, which is calculated to reach a depth of 20 feet of water, if necessary, would destroy all improvements on these lands for which there is proposed no compensation. The payment of one and one-half times the 1934 assessment for the lands would not in any way compensate the owner under such conditions.
There has been no consideration given to such institutions as churches, schools, and other community centers which make up to a large extent the social life of our rural sections, and which I think is an important factor to be considered. You cannot determine in dollars and cents compensation for destruction of the social and economic life of a community that has built up a thriving farm life, with all the elements of good citieznship which grow out of such effort. Along the banks of the Bayou Macon in East Carroll Parish, particularly, some of our best citiezns have gone into the woods, cleared lands, built homes, churches, and school buildings, of which they are naturally proud. These lands are fertile and the people are happy and full of hope. This shadow of a probable flooding of their property at intervals will destroy absolutely the sale value, as well as the loan value, of the lands but, worst of all, will destroy their confidence and feeling of security.
More than half of the area of East Carroll Parish would be included in the floodway if the recommendations in the Engineers' report are carried out. I doubt if we would be able to maintain our local government under such conditions. The drainage problem is not all clearly taken care of in the report and it would appear that it would be entirely impractical for one to live outside the floodway and operate property that is inside. The problem of roads and bridges, it appears would be too expensive to make such a policy possible.
As you know, most of our farms are unfortunately under mortgage. The money for flowage rights, intead of going to the farmowners, would necessarily first be applied on their debts; therefore our landowners would be put back at least to where they were before the “new deal” came into the picture and brought some measure of relief to our farmers by extending credit in the way of long-time loans on farm lands.
Some of the most competent engineers in this territory say frankly that the floodway may never be necessary, since, in their belief, the development in the upper rivers and the cut-off program of the Mississippi River Commission might adequately take care of the whole flood-control problem. Certainly it is a serious thing to inaugurate such an expensive and destructive program as is proposed, when eminent and competent engineers differ so vitally as to the needs or necessity of such action.
Our levees held in 1927 until the water reached a level of 60.4 feet at Arkansas City, and when the Cabin Teale levee broke the Vicksburg reading was about 5842 feet. We all know the congestion at Vicksburg, which was accentuated by the flood waters from the Mississippi Delta coming from the Mound landing crevasse, and the Yazoo Valley, causing the water to back up and the Cabin Teale crevasse was the result, that being the weakest point in our Louisiana levee system above Vicksburg. Incidentally, I cannot understand why this particluar point should be left out of the general cut-off plans, because it is the most aggravated case in the entire district, when you consider that the Mississippi River water is confined to a channel practically 1 mile wide and just above this bottle neck is added the waters from the Yazoo River.
During the 1927 flood the water level as far north of Vicksburg as Henderson Point was more than a foot above the calculations in the Vicksburg engineer's office. In other words, I called the office to find out how much levee we had above water at Henderson Point and was told we had about 114, feet. I sent an engineer down with a level to check up on this situation, and he came back within a few hours and reported less than one-half of a foot. This condition could only be accounted for by the fact that the great volume of water coming out of the Mississippi Delta added to the Mississippi River water already congested at Vicksburg, tended to hold back the flood and increase the height many miles above. If this congestion were relieved at Vicksburg by setting the levee back on the Louisiana side some 3 or 4 miles, certainly it would relieve largely the back-water area in Mississippi, as well as lower the flood height above Delta Point on the Louisiana side. In other words, if cutting off the points which have been obstructing the flood waters below and above Vicksburg are proving to be so effective in lowering the flood heights, it looks reasonable to me that it is more necessary at this point and certainly should be as effective as at other places.
The Mississippi River Commission, and General Ferguson in particular, should be commended for adopting a policy which is so simple, practical, and effective as cutting through these bends in the river and eliminating the artificial obstructions which have been maintained for many years for the purpose of carrying out a mistaken idea of protecting certain points, towns, and cities along the Mississippi River because of conditions over which they had no control. It does not take a technical engineer to know that shortening the distance the water has to flow will get rid of it faster and therefore lower the flood height, and further, that if you can shorten the distance sufficiently you will solve the flood problem. The question of navigation, while it has been considered as the primary reason for expending large sums of money on the Mississippi River, is only secondary in fact. The first great question is that of carrying the waters of this great stream down to the Gulf without damaging the property in this great fertile valley.
I believe the Missouri Pacific Railroad in southeast Arkansas and northeast Louisiana would likely be abandoned if this project is carried through as proposed, because they are already closing many of their stations along the route, and I doubt if the business they are getting would justify their operations if they had to adapt themselves to such a radical and expensive change. The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad between Tallulah and Delhi, La., would require some 9 miles of trestle work, and the concrete highway paralleling this line would have to do the same. I know the proposal is that this be paid for; however, there are many other highways maintained by the State and also by local government bodies for which there would be no compensation.
Taking the proposition as a whole, I do not think it is justified in any way, and I consider it as totally destructive from a financial, social, and economic standpoint and could result in nothing less than breaking down our entire local government.
Great numbers of our people who are most vitally affected by this scheme cannot be heard and have no way of expressing themselves except through you and other members of your committee, who have been delegated to speak for them. The engineers, of course, have been charged with the responsibility of working out a program for the discharge of some of the Mississippi waters, based on the theory that this is necessary; therefore, I have no complaint to make against them, because I know they have worked conscientiously in the performance of a duty. Certainly, if you discharge a sufficient amount of water through this floodway, you would relieve the situation insofar as it affects the Mississippi River; however, this is a departure from the policy we have been following for many years. Our people have borne a tremendous tax burden for 50 years or more in order to build our levees up to a grade and section that will protect them from floods, and now when we felt we had about reached a point where our hopes have been achieved they tell us we must cut these levees down so as to let the water out. I cannot reconcile myself to this policy and hope you and your committee will succeed in protecting our people from this destructive plan. Yours truly,
N. C. WILLIAMSON.
SNYDER & SEVIER,
Tallulah, La., March 27, 1935. Hon. JOSEPH E. RANSDELL, Chairman Citizens' Committee to Attend Meeting of Flood Control Committee at Washington,
Lake Providence, La. DEAR SENATOR RANSDELL: Relative to the proposed Eudora or Bayou Macon floodway, let me say I was born in Tensas Parish and have lived all my life in Tensas and Madison Parishes.
I now reside at Tallulah.
I have been district attorney for the sixth judicial district of Louisiana for about 30 years continuously and I am well acquainted with conditions in the three parishes, the two above named and East Carroll, which compose this district. I am well acquainted with the sentiment of the people of these three parishes and I know that 90 percent at least of the interested citizens in these three parishes oppose the construction of this floodway, because they believe, like I do, that it would mean absolute ruin to northeast Louisiana; that it would take out of commerce and destroy nearly half a million acres of land; that it would tremendously increase the burden of taxation on the narrow strip of land left between the floodway and the Mississippi River levee; that it would seriously impair, if not destroy, the drainage of the land left; that if a drainage canal is constructed sufficient to take the place of the present drainage there will be no bridges provided for across it; that the people in the left bar strip would be menaced from both front and rear by extreme flood in the Mississippi and from 20 to 22 feet of water in the floodway; that there would be no compensation paid for improvements which would be in the course of a little while destroyed and rendered useless; that the territory sought to be taken for the floodway would reduce the area of the parish of East Carroll between the levees to about 50,000 acres, which would make it impossible for East Carroll Parish to longer exist as a parish; that more than one-third of the land would be taken from the Madison Parish area and nearly a like quantity from Tensas Parish, thus working irreparable harm, hardship, and injury to all three parishes; that the land left outside the floodway would be measurably diminished in value and the very thought and threat of such floodway has within the writer's knowledge caused offerings for property to be withdrawn and caused prospective purchasers to retreat from their negoti. ations.
It should be borne in mind that just before the beginning of the Civil War between the States the Louisiana levee system at that then standard was completed, which caused marvelous development of agriculture in this section. In 1859 Madison Parish grew and marketed more than 100,000 bales of cotton. Because of the war levees were crevassed and caved in at various points and floodways were created at O'Possum Fork, Ashton, and Diamond Island and other points above Red River, and at Morganza and Bonnet Carre, below Red River, and agricultural production fell from the '50's to the '70's from 100,000 bales per annum in Madison Parish to about 20,000 bales.
Now that the levee system is again about completed to a larger section and a higher grade, this Joes Bayou, Tensas, and Bayou Macon country is developing rapidly and agricultural production is increasing by leaps and bounds.
This floodway, if constructed, would destroy all of this development, render homeless and drive from their schools and churches, which would also be de stroyed, the people now living within the limits of the proposed floodway.
I know it is not necessary for me to impress upon you that our people here are looking to you to exert your every effort to show the Congress and others in authority that this useless, extravagant, and remorseless floodway should not be constructed. Sincerely yours,
JEFF B. SNYDER.
LAKE PROVIDENCE, LA.,
April 8, 1935. Hon. RILEY J. WILSON,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. 0.: Kindly submit the following your committee flood-control reasons opposing floodway East Macon Ridge. Not shown to be absolutely necessary. Benefits problematical. Taking private property public good without due process and fair remuneration. State, parish, and civic holdings destroyed without recompense. Fruits labor poor and lowly confiscated without hearing. Destruction many permanent jobs. Furnish temporary work. Those could otherwise be employed. Plan of payment unjust and unwise. Speculative, experimental, exploitation. Opinions war experts reason employ idle. If authorities certain about plan would say so, condemn property, pay for it, and do work without haggling over price. Local maintenance contemplated of national undertaking causing destruction contractual relations largely based on Government's taking control of levee system. So many rights ignored. Brands plan unconscionable. Respectfully,
RANBDELL, Judge, Sixth Judicial District of Louisiana.