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and started to overflow their own stream, when they thought they would be amply protected.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. And that same situation applies to other tributaries in the lower Mississippi River, as far as your information goes?
Mr. DRIVER. Always, and your Mississippi-Yazoo system is on an exact parallel, as I am familiar with that.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. That is all, Mr. Chairman.
In view of your knowledge of flood control, gained by your having lived in the valley these many years and your long service in the House, as well as on the Flood Control Committee, and the thought that you have given to it, I wish to say that I predicate these questions largely upon the information that I have gained during these hearings, and I want to ask you if it is not your opinion that the better solution of the whole flood-control problem, if not the best solution, will finally be attained by reservoirs in conjunction with the levee system, and that we cannot depend on levee systems wholly for protection?
Mr. DRIVER. No one familiar with conditions in the Mississippi River watershed can for one moment hesitate to endorse the reservoir theory. It is the only ideal method of control, and the only reason today that it is not operating is on account of the difference in the estimated cost of that method of control as against levee construction, and if you will permit me, I will offer this further suggestion, that I think the engineering theory of levee control alone was largely governed by the fact that many millions of dollars had already been spent in levee constructions and those levees could be built up to grade and section cheaper than they could build new reservoirs.
If you will refer to the hearings in 1927 and 1928, you will find an estimate there of $292,000,000 spent by the local people for levees on the main line of the Mississippi River, prior to the participation on the part of the Government in those expenditures.
Mr. McCLELLAN. While we are taking into consideration the cost of the reservoirs, and hesitate to launch on that program of reservoir building because of the cost, is it not a fact that while we are delaying entering into a program that will eventually give us the relief needed, we are suffering losses by reason of floods that might be averted if and when the reservoirs were constructed and completed ?
Mr. DRIVER. The salvation of a very large area of our Nation depends on the construction of reservoirs, the withholding of water, and putting it into the soil.
Mr. MCCLELLAN. And, in the end, the cost is not excessive, in view of the proposed damage that we would save while we are waiting and trying to give protection with levees that are not sufficient to protect.
Mr. DRIVER. It would be by far better in the end, and when you take into consideration the many values involved in the reservoir theory, that is the cheapest method, of course, because it would build such enormous value for the benefit of the Nation as a whole.
But I say this to my colleague, that the people of the Mississippi River area have been devastated so frequently and suffered such
enormous losses, estimated at over $250,000,000 in the flood of 1927, that they were, of course, anxious to have a system of works built that would afford them the quickest possible protection, and the fact that we had existing levee lines only to be enlarged, with a possible diversion that would give them immediate relief, is the thing that caused the people so quickly to accept that engineering theory instead of providing for a system that would bring these great ultimate benefits to the Nation as a whole.
Mr. McCLELLAN. But I understand that now we have had this study made by the Engineers, and we have their report, but at that time the survey had not been made. However, now we have the benefit of this study and we know how to plan.
Mr. DRIVER. Yes; and there is no man in the American Congress who is more anxious to see a long-term plan of stream development through the use of reservoirs, and reservoirs exclusively, than I am, to restore to these suffering people in the areas what should be given to them, when their soil today is being literally blown away, and they are driving off of their land with any sort of a conveyance they can find. Where they are going, I do not know. They must know somebody somewhere that they can go to, but they are carrying off their families, and it is a regular trek from that land, and only water can restore it.
Mr. McCLELLAN. Judge, I gather from your statement, that it is your opinion that local interests along the Mississippi River Valley have gone just about their limit so far as providing for their own relief and protection is concerned?
Mr. DRIVER. Oh, Mr. McClellan, we are having the greatest difficulty to adjust our outstanding debts, to avoid defaults, and to try to pay maturing annual principal and interest installments, and in many instances in these areas, such as the St. Francis, we are prepared to get these holders of the bonds together and to work out an adjustment with them, provided we can secure the promise of protection that will make these areas a place of safe investment. As it is the holders of our securities are completely up in the air. They do not know what will happen. They know this, that unless we get protection, our investments and our lands are lost.
Mr. McCLELLAN. Then, this is a grave national problem, and one that cannot be solved unless there is a national responsibility devoted to solving it?
Mr. DRIVER. Of course, when you deprive people of their homes, put them out of those places where they are able to maintain themselves, they become a charge either upon the communities or on the Government. It should be the policy to keep those people there and to give them the opportunity to retain their homes, and when the local interests and the State organizations are so bankrupt that they can make no provision for them, there is only one way left to afford the protection, and that is the way we are discussing now. It is the only place where you can get the funds to build the necessary protection for communities.
Nr. MCCLELLAN. I will not ask any more questions.
Is it not a fact that within the last month the R. F. C. has refinanced the Little River Drainage District with a bond issue of over $8,000,000 in bonds, and adjusted that amount for the sum of approximately $2,000,000 in order that these people might have the chance to go in there and develop these lands and to continue their operation?
Mr. DRIVER. Yes; in which the holders of those securities very gladly joined in an effort to work out that salvation.
Mr. ZIMMERMANN. And that that condition had been brought about largely by the flood conditions in the St. Francis Basin?
Mr. DRIVER. Entirely.
Mr. ZIMMERMANN. I will ask you if it is not a fact that in Clay County—and you are familiar with Levee District No. 7, which started near St. Francis, Ark., and continued south on the Missouri side-that levee was built according to the Government grade and section, and it has held and fully protected the people through every succeeding flood from that time
Mr. DRIVER. And your levee district immediately to the south of it was shot to pieces.
Mr. ZIMMERMANN. And your levee on the other side was also shot to pieces ?
Mr. DRIVER. Yes; that is true.
I can give you another instance here. Mr. Pfeiffer appeared before your committee this week, and he is a splendid citizen, who has developed some valuable lands across the river, in Clay County, the chairman of the board of commissioners of three districts, that constructed a levee down in front of the levee you mentioned on the Arkansas side, and the R. F. C. a few days ago expressed its willingness to lend to those three districts the money with which to adjust their securities, but based on protection from the floods or they would not put a dollar in there.
In other words, if we had a bill from the Congress authorizing the engineers to put on these flood works, that district and its securityholders are ready to adjust that matter. But, without such a bill, the people that they want to pay that money to will be without their money, and the abandonment of those lands will mean they will never get a dollar of it back.
I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, for the patience with which you have listened to this presentation.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. There are three of my colleagues here, and we have 350 miles, or one-fourth of all of the levees in the lower Mississippi River, and I would be glad for them to make their statements.
The CHAIRMAN. They will be heard.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. There are Mr. Doxey, Mr. McGehee, and Mr. Ford here.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Ford, I believe that you said that you had an emergency call. STATEMENT OF HON. A. L. FORD, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
Mr. FORD. I had an engagement, Mr. Chairman; it was not an emergency.
The CHAIRMAN. We will hear you.
Mr. FORD. If it is convenient, I can come back some other time.
The CHAIRMAN. There is nothing before the House that requires our being there just now, so you may proceed.
Mr. FORD. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I thank you for this opportunity to make a brief statement and disclose the interest of the people in the district that I represent in this matter.
I have not had an opportunity to study the whole plan, and, of course, if I had had such an opportunity, the plan is of such magnitude that I would not be in position to express an opinion perhaps as to the whole plan.
I want to direct my thoughts to the Yalobusha and the Schooner Rivers, that affect the people of my district. I am advised by the engineers that the plans proposed are for a reservoir on the Yalobusha, in Grenada County, at or near the town of Holcomb, Miss., with an elevation of about 195 feet, which will embrace 29,200 acres in Grenada and Yalobusha Counties.
I cannot speak for the people in Yalobusha County, because that happens to be in the district of my colleague, Mr. Doxey.
I am also advised that they plan to construct a reservoir in Grenada County, that will give an elevation of 239 feet, which will embrace lands in Grenada and Carroll Counties, over an area of approxi. mately 25,500 acres.
I am also advised that it is planned to construct a reservoir in Calhoun County, on the Skuna River, which will embrace lands in Yalobusha and Calhoun Counties, over an area of approximately 12,600 acres, with an elevation of the water surface of 244 feet.
My purpose in appearing here is to express the sentiment of the people living along these tributaries, and their sentiment is, of course, that they will be putting up the entire area for this flood on the Yalobusha River there. In other words, as it stands now, they are not affected by the high water, by the backwaters, except when we have unusual rainfall.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you point out which is the Yalobusha on the map ?
Mr. FORD. The Yalobusha is right here [indicating]. It runs very close to Holcomb, Miss., and down through Grenada, Miss. It rises in Calhoun County, and comes down through Calhoun and Grenada Counties, and comes down here into this section here [indicating) and, of course, I refer to the Yalobusha River and then to the Skuna River, that rises up in Calhoun County and comes down through Calhoun and makes its way across Yalobusha County and then into the Yalobusha River.
Those people, as they have expressed their sentiments to me, are very much opposed to these reservoirs as proposed in this plan. They think that the proper way to drain the country and to take care of the flood waters up there is by levees, and in doing so they will not have to give up so much acreage in these counties, where they are not suffering from these flood waters.
With the permission of the chairman, I asked Mr. Ferguson, when he was on the stand the other day, if that theory had been investi. gated from an engineering standpoint, and he told me that it had and there was no difference insofar as protection is concerned, whether through reservoirs or levees, and there was some difference in the price, and he said that he would furnish the figures to the committee. I am advised by the clerk that he has not yet done so, so I do not have the figures and do not know what the difference in cost would be.
I dislike to come into a committee and oppose any plan that will help a large number of people that are suffering from these backwaters. I have no criticism to offer of the plan except to say that these people in the immediate area where these reservoirs will be located in Grenada and Calhoun and Yalobusha Counties will be deprived of that property up there, and, according to the statement and plan of the engineer, they will be paid one and a half times the assessed value.
Well, now, a great many of you are familiar with the values of lands and the manner in which they are assessed in the various counties in the States that you come from, and you know that that frequently would not be the fair value of the lands, and if those people have to give up their property there, for the protection of the people down below them in the flooded area, for the chief benefit of the people down below them, certainly some plan should be worked out by the committee and the Congress to provide reasonable compensation in payment for those lands.
That may be the intention of the committee, and of the Congress if they pass this legislation, but I want to call your attention to the fact that if those people are forced to go into condemnation proceedings, they will be forced to take their cases to the Federal courts, and they will have to leave their immediate vicinity and go some distance to the Federal courts, which usually requires them to hire some of the best trained lawyers of the country, at pretty high prices, and then they will probably have to prosecute appeals to the circuit court of appeals in New Orleans, for that district, and they might have to bring those cases all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, and you know that these people, with these small properties, would be entirely unable to prosecute their demands against the Government for reasonable compensation for their property, and I think that that is something we should give serious consideration to before we pass legislation here that will deprive these people of their property down there.
I know that it is not the intention of any member of the committee to do that, but I think that we should work out some plan here, whereby we may know that they will be reasonably compensated before we pass legislation that will take their property from them.
I appreciate the fact that something has to be done, because the people down in the lower valley in Mississippi, and on the Mississippi down below where these streams run down, have suffered almost yearly from high floods, but I do think that we could work out some plan, as testified to by the engineers, to construct levees all the way down these streams that would properly protect the people down in the lower Mississippi Valley and would not take so much property from the people up there where the reservoirs will be constructed, and would divide the burden equally, and these other regions that are really in the flood danger zone and that will really get the benefits from it should put up a little property as well as those people up there where the reservoirs will be constructed.
There is another thing that I want to call your attention to, that it might provide employment for a large number of people up in