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Step one: find a bulldozer
May 20, 2011 6:36 AM   Subscribe

Pictures of homemade flood levees, built to protect homes in areas flooding from the swelling Mississippi.
posted by gjc (55 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.
posted by nickyskye at 6:42 AM on May 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess none of these homes have cellars.. surely the hydraulic pressure of the river sitting 10m away at eye level would inundate the foundations.
posted by three blind mice at 6:53 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


the last laugh rests with the homes built on any kind of a hill near Yazoo City.
posted by taxpayer at 6:58 AM on May 20, 2011


Two of those were front page on wash post today. Very interesting. I wasn't sure it I should think their fight against the flood is futile, quixotic or what ..
posted by k5.user at 7:03 AM on May 20, 2011


This one is pretty sad.
posted by ghharr at 7:03 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Possibly futile, but still impressive - if our house was threatened by a flood, I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to build even a temporarily effective levee.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:06 AM on May 20, 2011


Mmmm ... golden second comment at the bottom.
Obama's liberal EPA will probably fine them for violating a code of some kind; you know like getting special permits for environmental studies first. Those burms surrounding those homes are a testament to what America once was- self sufficient but instead today it’s become mainly a bunch of wimpy liberal freeloaders. Showing up the status quo liberals with self preservation embarrasses them and they will get even; that’s the only thing they know how to do. - David Smith, Escondido
posted by brokkr at 7:09 AM on May 20, 2011


That's easy Three Blind Mice: take everything in the basement upstairs and fill with water. If your fuse box is down there, you might want to pull the power meter before you do this.

It'd be a mess, but at least your foundation would be intact.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:13 AM on May 20, 2011


Mmmm ... golden second comment at the bottom

Why golden? I would think that their attempts to save their homes are considered awesome by all, be they liberal or conservatives.
posted by francesca too at 7:13 AM on May 20, 2011


another tactic: buy flood insurance.
posted by Postroad at 7:27 AM on May 20, 2011


You have to admire the never-say-die attitude of the owner of this house. Surely he could have rebuilt his house a couple of times for the cost of the levee he constructed to protect it.
posted by digsrus at 7:30 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Those burms surrounding those homes are a testament to what America once was- self sufficient but instead today it’s become mainly a bunch of wimpy liberal freeloaders...David Smith, Escondido

Mississippi Federal tax dollars received vs tax dollars paid is $2.02. Your whole state is a freeloader David Smith of Escondido. I assume many more billions of our liberal tax dollars will go to bail out people who insist on building houses on swampland.
posted by any major dude at 7:32 AM on May 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Those burms surrounding those homes are a testament to what America once was- self sufficient but instead today it’s become mainly a bunch of wimpy liberal freeloaders

It looks like those berms were put there with tons and tons of trucked-in dirt, which was then arranged with heavy machinery. I'm sure it cost a pretty penny. Self-sufficiency is easy when you have a lot of ready cash to spend on it.
posted by chowflap at 7:32 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mr. David Smith of Escondido's comment is about 75 words long. He uses the word "liberal" as a pejorative 3 times. This 1/25 hate ratio was frequently seen in the run up to the Iraq War, but is not so common these days, when these types have expanded their vocabulary to include "Kenyan", "socialist", "Obamacare", "TelePrompTer", and "Sorento". So kudos to Mr. Smith for kickin' it old school.

Notice also that the writer is not angry about anything liberals have actually done; rather, he is frothing at the mouth about something he thinks liberals will probably do in the future. But when no one will actually do anything like he imagines, he will say, "if it weren't for patriotic Americans like speaking up against [the imagined thing], those liberals would have done it! Why do they hate America so much?"
posted by vibrotronica at 7:34 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


He uses the word "liberal" as a pejorative 3 times. This 1/25 hate ratio was frequently seen in the run up to the Iraq War, but is not so common these days...

I think that because, back in the day, the mission was to re-define liberal as a pejorative. So, you heard it used endlessly as such. Today, that mission has pretty-much been accomplished, as far as the average joe is concerned, so it's public usage has diminished and, thus, the move on to new words to tarnish.

As for the photos...It's pretty amazing how many people actually own their own bulldozers and loaders, isn't it?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:44 AM on May 20, 2011


Seriously? It's the Yazoo River? Causing a... Situation?

sorry
posted by GuyZero at 7:47 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was a story about this kind of impromptu levees on Marketplace on Wednesday, albeit on a slightly larger scale: Mississippi businesses band together to build their own levee
Ryssdal: Tell me about that: how many people did you save?

Spivey: Two neighborhoods, one north of us and one south of us. That's roughly 100 households and six businesses.

Ryssdal: We talked to your boss a little while ago. He said you guys are paying for this out of your own pockets -- about $85,000?

Spivey: Yeah. It's been a group effort with five businesses here, right around us. And everybody's going to tally up at the end and split the bills out and however much the damage is is what it is.
posted by angels in the architecture at 7:53 AM on May 20, 2011


On the contrary digsrus, basic earthworks are not the most expensive component of a construction contract, and if you're not looking for quality, dirt's pretty cheap too. I'm -fairly- certain that the house you linked went with the cheapest solution available to them.

A note to all, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, call up a local contractor and ask them for a quote. It doesn't hurt to check how much it would cost you to get the work done by professionals in a very short amount of time.
posted by lemuring at 7:53 AM on May 20, 2011


Mississippi Federal tax dollars received vs tax dollars paid is $2.02. Your whole state is a freeloader David Smith of Escondido.

The only Escondido I am aware of is in CA.
posted by TedW at 7:54 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


See there! We don't need the government to help us out! Our good old fashioned can-do spirit will work every time without needing a hand out. For the people who didn't make it, well some people just aren't hard working enough.
posted by The Whelk at 7:55 AM on May 20, 2011


ghharr: "This one is pretty sad."

Yeah, I saw that one and my heart just dropped. All that work. You have to feel for that family.
posted by Splunge at 8:00 AM on May 20, 2011


I hope all of the levees that are still standing make it through. If they get overtopped those homeowners are going to be proud owners of their own house ponds, even after all the flood waters recede.
posted by Alison at 8:02 AM on May 20, 2011


this one is awesome. bonus points for levee/moat combo
posted by jjoye at 8:04 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the contrary digsrus, basic earthworks are not the most expensive component of a construction contract, and if you're not looking for quality, dirt's pretty cheap too. I'm -fairly- certain that the house you linked went with the cheapest solution available to them.

Yeah, but at the same time, I imagine that any bulldozers available in the flood plain would have cost a pretty penny to utilize this week. That berm is at least 3x as big as it needs to be. The cost of fuel alone for the equipment is likely equal to a significant fraction of the value of the house (and eventually, it's gonna need to be torn down).

Also, if the house is saved, but everything around it is destroyed, what's the value? Americans like to value our homes as our castles, and tend to severely underestimate the necessity/impact of local infrastructure. If there's no power, potable water, sewer, access to food, schools, medical facilities, or police/fire protection, can you really live in your home? Sure, folks in the Alaskan bush do this all the time, but I'm not sure that the folks in the heartland are anywhere near as self-reliant as they claim to be.

this one is awesome . bonus points for levee/moat combo

I'm not a civil engineer, but isn't it a really, really, really bad idea to have put the moat on the inside of the dam? I can't imagine that structure lasting for very long at all with any amount of water pressure on the outside...
posted by schmod at 8:12 AM on May 20, 2011


I wonder if you could just make the house waterproof. Like make the first floor using ship construction.
posted by smackfu at 8:14 AM on May 20, 2011


Also, if the house is saved, but everything around it is destroyed, what's the value?

You still have your house, the house you like and the house you want to live in, with all your possessions intact. You don't really think people would give almost anything for that?
posted by smackfu at 8:15 AM on May 20, 2011


Roadkill, You are exactly right about Cairo, Il, it is a cesspool of the dregs of society. The aids per capita is greater than New York and the drugs and violence are second only to New Orleans. I have spent dangerous, life threatening time in both hell holes. When Katrina hit NO, the criminals and thugs stayed behind to loot and pilliage, but got cought in the flooding (thanks to their Democrat plantation owners) Ask the folks in Baton Rouge and Houston , who got the puss fron the lanced boil known as ?New Orleans." Their hard core crime rates went sky high when the violent thugs spread all over the South. Now the Government is flooding out hard working red state Americans in favor of saving these cess pools, to hell with Obama and his ilk.

Wow. Are the comments usually this crazy? It feels likes some of these guys won't rest until every Democrat in the South is used as a sandbag.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:15 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those berms would be pretty cool if they were landscaped. The roots would hold it together, too. And for Halloween, they could make a dry ice fogged sleepy hollow in there.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:16 AM on May 20, 2011



I wonder if you could just make the house waterproof. Like make the first floor using ship construction.


hmmm, yesss.. a house-boat if you will. QUICK, TO THE PATENT OFFICE!
posted by entropicamericana at 8:20 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Those berms would be pretty cool if they were landscaped.

Indeed, it could be quite interesting.

(Herzog & De Meuron's Laban Dance Center)
posted by lemuring at 8:26 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Additionally, saving your house puts less strain on the resources the rest of the "destroyed" area will be needing. You can take in neighbors whose houses were destroyed and they can remain close to their community. And think of all the stuff you keep in your house - yes, furniture and valuables, but clothes, towels, blankets, FOOD....
posted by maryr at 8:27 AM on May 20, 2011


These remind me of Kobe Abe's Woman of the Dunes.
posted by Rash at 8:39 AM on May 20, 2011


I'm not a civil engineer, but isn't it a really, really, really bad idea to have put the moat on the inside of the dam? I can't imagine that structure lasting for very long at all with any amount of water pressure on the outside...

this video update suggests they made it through successfully (you may be right, though; IANAE).
posted by jjoye at 8:41 AM on May 20, 2011


There were a couple of these on the front page of the Post this morning. They're absolutely haunting, and I almost posted an AskMe question asking for more images. Thanks for this.
posted by OmieWise at 8:43 AM on May 20, 2011


I wonder if many of these weren't built as "moats", unintentionally. Rent a bobcat, and push dirt from beyond the house towards it. When it's over, push it back out?
posted by gjc at 8:54 AM on May 20, 2011


Wow. Are the comments usually this crazy?

Based on the examples posted into the thread, I think those comments are actually pretty tame. No all-caps, no bald-faced racial slurs, no obvious Kenyan/Muslim/Birther conspiracies, and no references to sodomy, "fags", rape, or Hitler. By most Internet standards that's high-level political discourse.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:00 AM on May 20, 2011


Mississippi Federal tax dollars received vs tax dollars paid is $2.02. Your whole state is a freeloader David Smith of Escondido.

The only Escondido I am aware of is in CA.


I think this Escondido might be the one in an alternate universe.
posted by crackingdes at 9:12 AM on May 20, 2011



Seems to me like it would have been smarter to take all that dirt and build the house on top of it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:16 AM on May 20, 2011


These images are incredibly gripping. I think there's something in the American psyche that is especially moved by the impulse to protect one's little piece at all costs, that mentality of the homesteader against the forces of nature. There is something inspirational about that will to survive.

But I can't help but think that in the future the ability to survive may be dependent on being more flexible and less tied to physical place. Between economic pressures, environmental disasters, and energy constraints, investment in our current geography may be a luxury we can't afford. I guess that's another reason I find the pictures so moving... in the long run the whole project feels doomed. Not just along the Missisipi, but everywhere that humans are fighting to hold back the rising water.
posted by crackingdes at 9:24 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think this Escondido might be the one in an alternate universe.

Escondido's heart is in Mississippi. I wonder if they still have a large Clan / Neo Nazi contingency out there?
posted by dibblda at 9:45 AM on May 20, 2011


@ Pogo_Fuzzybutt: Or jack the house up and build a temporary foundation above the flood stage. Some of the houses are small enough that this would be easier than hauling in material to build a berm.
posted by JJ86 at 9:45 AM on May 20, 2011


Also, if the house is saved, but everything around it is destroyed, what's the value?

A lot of the houses around me with levees are surrounded by farmland....so there's insurance for that and they'll plant again next year.

I imagine that any bulldozers available in the flood plain would have cost a pretty penny to utilize this week.

I imagine people use their own? People I know in Yazoo who couldn't do their normal job (farming) because of the rising flood spent a lot of time levee building for themselves and others....although there is talk/gossip around here about a guy who spent $100,000 on a levee to protect his house and his grain silos - the grain in the silos is worth $200,000 and the house, idk, but that seems worth it to me.

Seems to me like it would have been smarter to take all that dirt and build the house on top of it.

Do you guys not realize this is an unusual flood? It's not like we do this every year down here...

Previouser. Previousest.

See also.

I've been taking pictures every day, but can't anymore as most (all but two!) roads leading out from my town are closed and this is enforced by the national guard and police. (two flickr self-links in there)
posted by nile_red at 10:02 AM on May 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Did the guy in that follow-up to the "moat" video cut a driveway back through the berm after the floodwaters receded?

Maybe I'm crazy, but after the flood wouldn't you want to leave that wall up around your house forever!? I would build a driveway up on top of that thing, park there, and kiss it sweetly on the dirty peak every time I arrived at my warm, dry home.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 10:11 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a pretty great miniature model of how New Orleans works. Occasionally this.
posted by gordie at 10:50 AM on May 20, 2011


Dear David from Escondido,

We heard you loud and clear. You don't want the federal govenment interfering in the lives or private citizens. We'll we're sorry about that flood thing, but we're not sending any FEMA money. Or trucks. Or trailers. Or clean water. Or food. You've been very explicit, that's socialism. So let us know how that whole bootstraps thing goes, ok? Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to take a couple calls from New York about a highspeed train line.

Thanks,

Barack Hussein Obama
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:54 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am a civil engineer. Here is my berm building estimate.

A 10' high berm with 3:1 (H:V) sideslopes and a 6' wide top is a 360 SF cross section. To protect a 50' square, you would need 464 LF of berm. That comes to 6,255 CY of earthwork.

I have seen bid prices from contractors for this type of earthwork anywhere from $8 to $30 per CY. This includes overhead and profit.

This is where the guessing starts: I estimate that a farmer with his own bulldozer, a supply of free dirt nearby, and no need to pay an equipment operator could build the berm for less than $5 per CY, or about $30,000.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 11:02 AM on May 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Huh? Where is that $30k going? Towards gas?
posted by smackfu at 11:17 AM on May 20, 2011


Uncle Jimmy: I think the folks around me are just digging it up?
posted by nile_red at 11:33 AM on May 20, 2011


@taxpayer: Yazoo is actually half in the flat delta, and half in some really hilly land, so you are more right than you know. The town's motto is "gateway to the delta" and if you ever drive HWY 49 North through it, you'll come through a dramatic set of hills that suddenly flatten to the delta.

The other major road is HWY 16, (part of which was hit by the tornadoes more than a year ago now) which has an even more dramatic descent from the top of a hill that lets you see all the land around, through downtown Yazoo, over the Yazoo river and into the delta.
posted by nile_red at 12:05 PM on May 20, 2011


nile_red, those pictures are great. Many of them are really good! I particularly like the one called SWAMP!.
posted by OmieWise at 12:10 PM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks OmieWise! I am not only a fan of swamps but also islands.
posted by nile_red at 2:26 PM on May 20, 2011


But I can't help but think that in the future the ability to survive may be dependent on being more flexible and less tied to physical place. Between economic pressures, environmental disasters, and energy constraints, investment in our current geography may be a luxury we can't afford.

It may be a luxury we can't afford, but it is a luxury our animal brains are hard wired to desire. Everyone wants a nest. You protect it if you can, because once you start running, it costs a LOT more to survive.
posted by gjc at 6:51 AM on May 21, 2011


Hard wired? We were semi nomadic hunter gatherers for much longer when we've been nest building argiculturists.
posted by The Whelk at 7:24 AM on May 21, 2011


Where did we go at night after the hunting and gathering? Nomads only roam because the food runs out. Once we figured out how to stop the food running out, we stopped roaming.

I'm not disagreeing with the premise that humanity might have to resurrect our nomadic ways, but the modern definition of what the OP was talking about is "refugee".
posted by gjc at 8:26 AM on May 21, 2011


Lemuring's post reminded me of the earthworks of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (and his contemporaries). Controlling and redirecting large amounts of water was a component of many fortifications used in positional warfare. There's something to be said for the aesthetic appeal of those works, too -- even if their original purpose and the technique of their construction are happily obsolete.
posted by Kikkoman at 11:46 AM on May 21, 2011


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