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Mr. Doxer. Well, now, you have figures that are interesting there. I have some figures that, if I may, with the permission of the committee, I would like to submit-or will you submit yours? We have all considered the figures.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I have already submitted them by putting them in the record.
Mr. Doxey. I just want this committee to have the whole picture, and I very gratefully thank you, and I hope that I have not trespassed on your time, and, if General Markham should be back before the committee I still desire to ask him some questions
The CHAIRMAN. I suggest that you give the suggestion to General Markham that you gave to the committee. I would suggest to him that this is pending, and that you would like to have his language for discretionary power.
Mr. Doxey. General Markham is out of town, but the same language that applies to the Arkansas situation certainly ought to apply to the Yazoo Basin, and that would be the sum and substance of it. You would not single out any one place; you would let it go in in a general plan, as set forth in my bill 6190.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I think we have to get different language, because they only had two plans in Arkansas, and here have six for the Yazoo River project.
Mr. Doxey. I will be very glad to confer with you or anybody else about it, and I will submit it. (Mr. Doxey's amendment is as follows:)
AMENDMENT PROPOSED BY HON. WALLY DOXEY, OF MISSISSIPPI
Page 2, line 12, before the period, insert a comma and the following, “except that in the prosecution of such project the Chief of Engineers, with the approval of the Secretary of War, is authorized to make such modifications in the plans so recommended, insofar as they relate to the Yazoo River Basin. As he finds necessary for the control of the flood waters of, and preventing soil erosion in, such basin by channeling, straightening, and deepening the streams and by construction of levees and by establishing and relocating reservoirs and is authorized to prosecute such modifications of the plan in the same manner as if they were recomended in such Committee Document Numbered 1." The CHAIRMAN. We thank you for coming. We will now hear Mr. McGehee.
STATEMENT OF HON. DAN R. McGEHEE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
Mr. MoGEHEE. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for the opportunity to come before the committee.
I come in behalf of those people in my district that are in this flooded area that is covered by the legislation before the committee now, which is principally Yazoo County and Warren County.
I was reared in the hills, and know very little about flood control, my experience being with those tributaries of the Homochitto River and the small streams through my section, but since my election to Congress I have given a great deal of thought and study to the problems confronting those people who live in my district in this food area, that being, as stated, Warren and Yazoo Counties. You
very kindly some days ago inserted in the record a statement from Mr. F. A. Enders, of Vicksburg, Miss., as to the views of the people of Warren County as to what could be done for their protection, and they had a delegation here a day or two ago from Yazoo County, headed by Judge Montgomery, of Yazoo City, whom you kindly permitted to appear before your committee and give his statement.
I am not opposing the plan as submitted by the Army Engineers relative to flood control throughout the Mississippi Valley—that is, the establishment of a reservoir basin and reservoirs for the protection of the headwaters. We are not opposing that at all, because we realize that we will receive some material benefit in my district from the construction of those reservoirs.
I am primarily here this morning to call the committee's attention to the fact that, if it is within the committee's province under the legislation now being considered, we think that they ought to make some recommendations to take care of my section, and a part of the district of my colleague, Mr. Whittington, is also so affected, from backwater; that is, when the flow in the Mississippi reaches the flood stage at Vicksburg the Army Engineers have a reservoir for the protection of the levees by letting the water go back up the Yazoo Valley.
Now, we think that we can at least receive some material aid to help in the protection of a great area of that land under this plan, at least by the construction of the Brunswick Levee, which has been started but not completed. Some 5 or 6 miles of it is uncompleted, and we think that that will lower our area that would be covered by_backwaters very materially if that were completed.
In studying this problem I know from the reports of the different Army Engineers, and I see that they are somewhat changed by every change of the engineer that makes a recommendation, that in the majority of times they have recommended that the Brunswick Levee be completed down to Vicksburg, and it would materially aid the backwater area.
I might say that there are several hundred thousand acres of the most productive and fertile land in this country in this area, and years ago, before the Government began to give aid in the construction of levees, and these waters were begun to be backed up there, that was one of the most prosperous sections of the Mississippi Valley. Practically all of the lands were in cultivation by prosperous farmers, but today they are having to abandon those farms, and the towns there are suffering. I refer to the towns in the hilly sections in the upper area, which are suffering on account of trade being reduced from that territory, so much so because of the thousands of acres of that land today that are not being cultivated, not being tilled at all.
I was impressed by the statement of Mr. Driver this morning when he referred to this situation with which we are all familiar, this drought, and where these people will go to. We have thousands of acres of land throughout the Mississippi Valley that have been abandoned in the past few years and are not being cultivated. If properly protected from floods, they could give homes to hundreds and hundreds of farmers, and that is true in this very area that I am talking to this committee about this morning; and we further have the opinion, Mr. Chairman, that by a system of levees on the Yazoo River, we could be fully protected, so that this million and a half acres today in Mr. Whittington's district and my district could be cultivated by the farmers practically every year, unless we have a superflood.
Yet I do not know that we would be able to convince the Army Engineers that they should make such a recommendation at this time, because it seems to me from reading their report that their idea is for the protection of the greatest number of people by this system of reservoirs, but I do want to insist in a proper way, that this committee in their recommendations urge that this Brunswick Levee be completed, that distance of some 6 or 7 miles which we think will lower the flood stage at least 3 or 4 feet, and reclaim from ordinary flood conditions this land, and it has reached the stage now where it will at least reclaim half of those lands. Of course, we would rather see the levee system completed all the way up, but I doubt whether at this time we will be able to do so.
So I come to this committee this morning and ask that we receive that much consideration in trying to protect this large area in the backwater area of Warren and Yazoo Counties; and I want to thank you gentlemen for the courtesy that you have extended to me.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILL M. WHITTINGTON, A REPRESENTA
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I want to make a brief statement in connection with the statements of my colleagues with respect to the Yazoo, River Project, and my statement will cover about as much as my questions would cover.
Mr. Chairman, the pending bill and the report provide for a system of flood control in the headwater area to protect approximately a million and a half acres. I join with my colleagues in asking for protection in the backwater area of the Yazoo, just as others have asked for protection in the backwater areas of the St. Francis and the Red Rivers.
Mr. Chairman, the Chief of Engineers recommended in House Document 198 plans for flood control in the backwater area, and plan 4 is the most economical and would provide, as my colleague has suggested, for the expenditure of $14,000,000 to protect 650,000 acres in this backwater area, in addition to the million and a half acres in the headwater area that would be protected by the recommended project.
Now, the Yazoo Basin contains about 4,250,000 acres. The YazooTallahatchie-Coldwater River is approximately 525 miles long. It is more than 400 miles long in the alluvial valley.
There are two flood problems, and this particular territory has contributed about $50,000,000 to protect itself from floods in the Mississippi, and about
$20,000,000 to protect itself from floods along the Yazoo System. That $20,000,000 has been expended, and the construction has been suggested of about 110 drainage districts. They are utterly inadequate, and do not coordinate. Only a comprehensive plan will do the job.
Every acre of this million and a half acres, including about 800,000 acres in the backwater area represented by my colleague, Mr. McGehee, and myself, is now and has been contributing in taxes to the levees along the Mississippi River.
The first levee board that was organized in the Yazoo Basin was in 1828, and that basin has been contributing to the building of levees along the Mississippi River since that time. But an excessive flood in that area flooded more than 550,000 acres, and 25 people lost their lives, and damages in excess of $200,000,000 occurred. There were even larger floods in 1933, and the greatest of all floods in the last 50 years was in 1932, when there were 993,000 acres flooded, according to the report of the Chief of Engineers.
The proposed system there would protect an area in which there are approximately 200,000 people, 700 miles of improved highways, and 400 miles of railroads, and the Chief of Engineers recommends the reservoir plan. I endorse the recommendation.
Approximately two-thirds of the cost of the project will go to labor, and will thus provide that much employment. Most of that labor will be hand labor.
Now, page 12 of this report shows the land damages, and gives the amount of $12,000,000. The district engineer submitted to me a report about 18 months ago, showing that the cost of those lands was about half that amount, because that estimate was made in 1929, and there has been a reduction in cost.
Again, with respect to the Mississippi flood-control project that protects this entire basin, parts of which are represented by Mr. McGehee, Mr. Doxey, and myself, and I have this to say for the record, that the city of Greenville was the largest city in the path of the flood in 1927, 18,000 people. The Chief of Engineers and the Mississippi River Commission estimated—and the city of Greenville is located in about the center of that basin—that in order to have carried the 1927 flood, the levees would have had to have been 13 feet higher at Greenville and 81/2 feet higher at Arkansas City than the existing levees, and they stated that levees only had failed.
This committee reported a bill to provide protection to every person in any floodway or diversion, but we were unable to get favorable consideration by the House. The bil} that was finally passed was the bill first passed by the Senate, and we got protection for every area that we could by modifying it in the House.
I favored then, and I favor now, the reopening of the Cypress Creek area and the Government compensating every citizen and every property owner for damages that have been sustained by the closing of Cypress Creek. The Government of the United States spent and authorized $325,000,000 to prevent a recurrence of the 1927 flood, and I am not advocating any floodway or any particular diversion, but I do say that the money the Government has spent would be thrown away if now, without constructing the Eudora or other floodway, we raised the fuseplug area before the reservoirs are constructed.
It was estimated that that flood would come every 12 years. We are 5 years closer to it now, and if there is to be any change in the adopted project for the protection of the largest basin, the equivalent of the protection that was given to Cairo and to Omaha and to New Madrid, and the equivalent of protection given to the city of New Orleans in the lower river, there must not be any elimination of the Boeuf diversion until the equivalent of that protection has been provided either by reservoirs, which I favor, or by other similar diversions.
As shown by page 21 of the report of the Chief of Engineers, a series of reservoirs, which I favored in 1928, to reduce the flood at Arkansas City, would cost $240,000,000. Those were the reservoirs along the Arkansas and the White. I favored them, but we could not secure them. They would provide for the storing of 37,000,000 acre-feet.
Now, in the report which has not been submitted by the Chief of Engineers, but which was referred to and presented now for our consideration, and which was referred to by the President of the Mississippi River Commission, it was stated that there could be a reduction of 400,000 second-feet by building 26 reservoirs. I am for that, but until that or the equivalent protection has been provided, I submit that any legislation, no matter what provision is made for the Yazoo or for the St. Francis or for any other area, would be unwise if it eliminated the protection provided for by the adopted project in 1928.
YAZOO RIVER SYSTEM PROJECT
First. As to flood control in the Yazoo Basin, I endorse the project recommended on page 12 of Committee Document No. 1.
Second. The basin contains approximately_4,250,000 acres with two flood problems one from the Mississippi River on the west, the other from the Yazoo-Tallahatchie-Coldwater River system, 520 miles long, called the Yazoo River system, on the east. The project is to protect the headwater area of this system at an estimated cost of $48,000,000. I recommend that protection for the backwater area by levees be included by the use of plan no. 4 in House Document 198, Seventy-third Congress, second session, the cost of construction being $14,000,000.
Third. The local interests have expended about $20,000,000 along the Yazoo River system and are unable to contribute more. More than a hundred drainage districts have been constructed but they do not coordinate.
Fourth. Only a comprehensive plan will solve the problem.
Fifth. The proposed plan will protect approximately 1,500,000 acres of land along the Yazoo River system.
Sixth. There has been an excessive flood during the present year that has overflowed about 550,000 acres, caused damages in the sum of more than $2,000,000, and has resulted in approximately 25 deaths. There was an excessive flood in 1933, covering more than 600,000 acres; in 1932 there was the largest flood in the Greenwood area in 50 years, 993,000 acres in the headwater area being flooded.
Seventh. The Yazoo River is navigable. It is the principal tributary of the Mississippi River on the east side from the Ohio River to the Gulf. The reservoirs will reduce flood heights at Vicksburg about 6 inches, at the mouth of the Yazoo River.
Eighth. The control of the floods of the main river involves the control of the tributaries.
Ninth. There are many and diverse interests. Interstate commerce is involved; public health and the social well-being and security of homes are at stake; there are some 400 miles of railroad, 700 miles of improved highways, and more than 200,000 people are affected.