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Mr. BLAND. That varies.
Mr. CARLSON. Just approximately.
Mr. BLAND. Class A land is assessed at $40 an acre, and it scales on down.
The CHAIRMAN. You are asking for the assessment on the land involved in that area?
Mr. CARLSON. Yes; approximately.
The CHAIRMAN. There are 19,000 acres, and what was the total assessment?
Mr. BLAND. I suppose that it would average about $30.
Mr. ADAMS. $236,000 is the total assessment.
Mr. CARLSON. Do you know what the assessment was in 1928, 1927, or 1926, previous to the construction of this set-back levee?
Mr. BLAND. In 1928 the assessment was reduced some on account of the 1927 overflow. I do not know just what it was.
Mr. RICH. I was just thinking of the statement made a while ago, that when they built that set-back, the ground was totally destroyed, and then of the fact that you are living on there and making a living on it, and that the assessor is assessing you $36 an acre for the ground at the present time. I cannot see how it can be totally destroyed if it is assessed at $36 an acre.
Mr. BLAND. It is not assessed at that now.
Mr. ADAMS. That assessment was based on the year in which the lands were taken, in 1929.
Mr. RICH. What is the assessment today?
Mr. ADAMS. It would be materially reduced from that.
Mr. BLAND. On this particular piece of property, the value in 1930 was $12,102.
Mr. RICH. How many acres?
Mr. BLAND. Eight hundred and ten acres.
Mr. RICH. What is the assessment on that this year?
Mr. BLAND. In 1932, and from 1932 to the present time, it is $4,394. Mr. RICH. The assessment today is about one-fourth of what it was previous to that time?
Mr. BLAND. About one-third.
Mr. RICH. That is all.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any further questions of Mr. Bland? Of course, when you said that the property was destroyed, you meant, did you not, for sale value or loan value? Of course, it is possible to live there, for it is not washed out?
Mr. BLAND. It is not washed out; but I should have added, but did not, that if we could get an overflow, I do not mean that our levee would break, but the seepage water would be so bad that we would have to move out of there.
The CHAIRMAN. And when this old levee that is there is abandoned
Mr. BLAND. We will be overflowed every year that the river gets out of its banks.
The CHAIRMAN. So this levee was moved back in order to put it on a permanent basis, and it saved a million and a half dollars to the Government, although it left you landowners exposed?
Mr. RICH. Do you not think that farm lands generally over the country have had the assessments on them greatly reduced in prac
tically every location? I know that that is the situation in our country; and, not only that, but you cannot sell farms or give them away; so that the condition that exists down there is not any different from that that exists with respect to farm lands the country
The CHAIRMAN. There is no contention there over the fact that they changed the assessment, but what Mr. Bland is establishing here is that the Government, in saving a million and a half dollars in setting this new levee on the high ground, left this land between the new levee and the main channel of the Mississippi River in a position where they could not get a loan on it.
Mr. BLAND. You cannot get a loan now on our land.
Mr. ZIMMERMAN. Is it not a fact that in some places where they have these set-back levees they do not even carry the lands between the levee and the river on the assessment roll, because of the hazards due to floods and the uncertainty of crops? I know that that happened at one point in Missouri.
Mr. BLAND. We are assessed for every acre that we own. Louisiana taxation is confiscation.
Mr. ZIMMERMAN. What happens to your drainage there? In other words, is there any chance to get the water that falls in that area out?
Mr. BLAND. None whatever.
Mr. ZIMMERMAN. And, in addition to the seepage water that comes from these levees, you have the water bottled up in this area for which there is no drainage, and that also has a tendency to destroy the usefulness of the property.
Mr. BLAND. With the stage that we have had this year, the water on the protected side was not rising as much as it was in the river, but it was continuing to rise until the river started to fall.
Now, cotton will stand a whole lot, but with corn, oats or barley, or any grain that we plant, if you get those seepage waters on your crops, it will destroy them.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there anything further?
Mr. BLAND. No; that is all.
Dr. WOLFE. I have here the application that I made to the Federal land bank for a loan, and it was turned down on the ground that the land had no value.
The CHAIRMAN. And you want to make that a part of your statement in the record?
DEAR SIR: I have your letter about a Government loan on your property in this parish.
I understand that the property lies northeast of Somerset and has been recently cut badly by the new levee line, and the portion left is now a long narrow strip. I say this without knowing very much about the property.
Loans are made largely on the production record, and only on that portion lying inside the levee, as the land outside the levee is overflowed annually by the river and very little along our front is cultivated.
I will be very glad to have your application, and see what I can do for you on this property.
I am, yours very respectfully,
GERMAN BAKER, Local Correspondent.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there anybody else who desires to be heard? Mr. Kell, do you or Mr. Schneider want to make a statement? Mr. KELL. My statement would be very short, and I would be glad to give way.
Mr. ZIMMERMAN. I would like to make this statement, that, so far as I am concerned, the only question that I am concerned with in regard to the acreage that is between these set-back levees and the river is what the amount of that acreage is, and I understood from the chairman that that had been ascertained to a mathematical certainty; and, so far as I am concerned, with the statements that have been made here by these gentlemen and by Judge Driver yesterday and Judge Wilson, I have no question in my mind as to the justness or the merits of this bill, and I just say that for the mere purpose of saving the time of you gentlemen.
The CHAIRMAN. I think it is important that we should hear from the landowners throughout that country, as to their situation. Mr. ZIMMERMAN. I just make that suggestion.
Mr. RICH. Have we a description of these particular lands, separated as to the lands that are swamp lands, the wooded area, and the lands that are now available, and what the situation was prior to the building of these set-backs?
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean, as to the land actually in cultivation?
Mr. RICH. As to the value of any particular land.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean the acreage in cultivation, and the acreage not in cultivation?
Mr. BLAND. Yes, sir; that is all covered as to the land which is unprotected and that which is protected, and the various grades of land.
The CHAIRMAN. But Mr. Rich's question was as to the acreage, as to the portion in cultivation and the portion not in cultivation.
Dr. WOLFE. I think that in making out their assessment they make out the different characters of the land, so that they have that in their record.
Mr. DEAR. Does the record show the amount of money that the Government has spent on these set-backs as compared to the amount of damage done?
The CHAIRMAN. I think that that was prepared by the State board of engineers of Louisiana, not by the Government, and I think that it gives the actual cost and that in each levee set-back that portion is measured.
Mr. Jacobs, taking the 74,000 acres involved, do you have the portion in cultivation and the portion not in cultivation?
Mr. JACOBS. No; not as a whole.
Mr. RICH. The valuation of swampland would be a very small amount in comparison to your value of farm lands, and probably of wooded lands, and if the timber was not of any great value, the value of the wooded lands would be much less than that of the farm lands.
The CHAIRMAN. Oh, yes.
Mr. RICH. It is a different classification.
Mr. JACOBS. We have the different classifications of the lands, and the assessed valuation.
Mr. DEAR. But that only applies to Louisiana?
Mr. JACOBS. So far as our records go.
Mr. DEAR. But what I am trying to get data on is with respect to the situation from Cape Girardeau up.
Mr. JACOBS. Out of 74,000 acres taken, we have in Louisiana 65,000. The CHAIRMAN. Practically all in Louisiana.
Mr. ZIMMERMAN. It seems to me-and I may be in error about this-that so far as the purpose of this committee is concerned, we are being asked to pass a law making payments for these lands which have been taken, and ascertaining the value is a matter to be determined later by the Secretary of War and others.
Mr. DEAR. The argument that I would like to present to a colleague is how much the Government has saved by destroying our people's land. I think it would be persuasive.
Mr. ZIMMERMAN. I agree with you on that point.
Mr. DEAR. But I think that we will have the general proposition when the State engineer from Louisiana testifies.
Mr. RICH. But what I would like to say to my colleague, Mr. Zimmerman, is that I think it would be a good thing if we knew what the value of these lands was before we passed the bill, and we have the engineer of the State of Louisiana here, and if we had something definite from the standpoint of the State of Louisiana, where the greatest amount of these lands is located, it would be a very wise thing, so that we could know what we are passing a bill for, because every time that I pick up one of these Government statements when they come in I see how far we are going into the red, and I wonder where we are going to get the money to pay the bills, and if we just simply close our eyes and pass bills and the deficit increases, and we do not know where the money is going to come from, the situation will not be so good. I never did that in my life, and I do not want to do it here.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, there would be no way of knowing definitely what it will cost, but according to the estimate which was made when this bill was reported, which is practically identical with this survey made by General Brown, it would be about $4,000,000, and I think from all of the information that I can get that that is somewhere near the limit of it.
I think that maybe we could get from the State engineer the assessed value of the property, and that would be the nearest way that we could settle definitely on the value of the property.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I would like to say that I see Mr. Rich's point, and, as you probably recall, we have had at least two extensive hearings on this proposition, and I am speaking from memory, but I have in mind the cut-off opposite what they call "Davis Bend". The CHAIRMAN. That is Wilson Point.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. At all events, in that connection, and in the case of Australia, in the territory between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and in other similar cases, including cut-offs in Mississippi, as well as in Arkansas, General Brown testified, and the district engineers testified, and they were asked as to what it cost to build the cut-off, and asked as to what it would cost to revet the property,
and as to the value of the property, and that you will find in the previous hearings, where we went into details, taking examples in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, here and there along the river, and the savings were shown to be, in the aggregate, around $4,000,000.
Mr. RICH. The thought that I had in mind was that specific projects have been mentioned here, but I thought that we might have the recapitulation of it; and if we have the engineer from Louisiana
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I understand that, and, having given the recapitulation for Mississippi-and there is no guess about it; we know exactly what the valuations are, because they have been advanced in practically every case up to date, and I gave you the figures in dollars and cents.
Mr. JACOBS. We have the same thing for the State of Louisiana, a completed list from 1928 down to the present date.
The CHAIRMAN. Could you make that a part of the record at this point, a summary of how much you have saved and how much it will cost; that is, on the basis of the assessed value?
In the other hearing we had that practically complete, and it showed about $4,000,000, as Mr. Whittington said.
Mr. Schneider, do you now desire to make a statement?
STATEMENT OF F. H. SCHNEIDER, REPRESENTING LANDOWNERS OF THE FIFTH LOUISIANA LEVEE DISTRICT
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Gentlemen, these various shaded areas on these maps give you a general idea about what land has been taken for set-back levees. That is what it means to you, gentlemen; but to me each shaded area reminds me of heart-rending incidents which have occurred in my experience in acquiring rights-of-way for those levees. At that time I was president of the levee board. I was contact man with the property owners and had to thrash out with them any differences which arose.
At this point, designated as the Duck Port set-back, I had a very trying experience. One evening as I drove along the levee, looking over the proposed location for the new levee, I stopped at the house of an old friend who was going to be seriously affected by the new levee. He immediately began talking about the location of the levee. I told him that it would throw out all of his property. He said, "My God, Schneider! All that I have is invested in this property. My land is well drained, my cabins for my tenants are in good repair, and I have a comfortable home, where my wife and I are expecting to spend the balance of our lives. What am I going to do? Can't you pay me for it?"
I said that there was no way to pay for it, because we were going to take it under the law of servitude. I left him cursing and his wife crying, and I felt as mean and guilty as a dog for taking property for public benefit without paying for it. That is just one instance right there, and there are many others.
At this point, known as the "Bayou Vidal-Elkridge levee ". I had a different kind of an experience. When we went to locate the right-of-way, and to contract for moving the houses, we were met by the son or the brother of Dr. Wolfe. He had a double-barreled shotgun, loaded with buckshot, and he said, "I am going to shoot the