In January of 1905 the Missouri Legislature’s first order of business was to enable the formation of a large drainage district that could receive tax revenue for its operations.
In 1922 at an Annual Landowners Meeting the landowners decided that they wanted a more complete and more highly efficient system of drainage. They wanted to progress still further. It was as though they wanted to have a little better automobile. They were not displeased with what they had but they wanted to have the best that could be found. So at Morehouse in October 1923, the Engineers of the District presented to the landowners an Improved and Equalized Plan that called for the construction of 250 miles of additional ditches (Ditch Nos. 237, 251, 256, 258, 259, 281, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, & 295), and cleaning out other ditches. Also included was the construction of two additional detention basins on the sides of the District, Caney Basin and Jenkins Basin. These basins both have concrete culverts designed to retain most of the hill runoff during periods of heavy rainfall. This Plan was approved and work began in 1924.
1926 Report – Cubic Yardage and Cost
Headwater Division Channel System
- 10 Million Cubic Yards of Material
- Cost – $2,730,000
Main Drainage System
- 33.7 Million Cubic Yards of Material
- Cost – $2,377,000
West Extension Plan
- 1.7 Million Cubic Yards of Material
- Cost – $202,000
Improved and Equalized Plan
- 20.7 Million Cubic Yards of Material
- Cost – $4,000,000
Total for Project
- 66 Million Cubic Yards of Material
- Cost – $9,309,000
In March 1927 the rains began to fall, and more rain came. The rains became a flood, and the flood became a national disaster called the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927. The fortunes and plans of The Little River Drainage District were swept downriver along with those of a thousand others that year. In April, the Mississippi River levee below Commerce, Missouri broke and much of southeast Missouri flooded, including much of The Little River Drainage District from Morehouse south to the Arkansas state line. Flood damages were extensive because many had little, if any, warning to prepare for the flood after the breech in the levee.
1927 Flood of Record Lower Mississippi
When the water receded, the economic impact was immediate. Farms, businesses, and commercial banks in the Mississippi River Valley failed. The remainder of the country would enjoy two more years of the prosperity of the Roaring 20’s before joining the misery of the lower Mississippi River Valley due to the 1930’s Great Depression. The District would not recover from this disaster…at least not without the help of the national government.
Following the flood, the federal government took steps to ensure that such a costly disaster would not happen again. Congress approved the Flood Control Act of 1928 (FCA), which is the controlling legislation for flood control activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The most important provision in the FCA is the blanket immunity for damages caused by flood control activities.
This Act authorized the Corps of Engineers to improve the Headwater Diversion Channel mainline levee, a key feature to the District.