Citizens in Flood Zone Build Homemade Levees to Protect Their Homes

Click here to read more about our efforts to tame the mighty Mississippi--and how those efforts are failing--in our feature. Scott Olson/Getty Images

All of that water pouring out of spillways and topping levees up and down the Mississippi River has to go somewhere, and many living in those areas prone to flooding have taken drastic action to keep from being inundated. In what could be called a testament to the human instinct to protect hearth and home, some in the disaster zone are holding out by taking civil engineering into their own hands, building makeshift levees to keep the rising waters at bay. Click through the gallery to see how far some homeowners have gone to protect their properties.

Click to launch the photo gallery

Many residents of low-lying areas can’t rely on government infrastructure to protect their homes–in fact, in some cases it’s the government that’s flooding them. In an effort to spare population centers like New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the Army Corps of Engineers have opened the Mississippi’s three major spillways–the Birds Point-New Madrid spillway in Missouri, the Morganza spillway near Morganza, La., and the Bonnet Carre just north of New Orleans–the first time all three have been opened up at the same time.

In other places, the overflowing Mississippi has left local rivers with no place to put their overflow. Floodwaters claimed their first victim today as a 69-year-old man was pulled form the waters by firefighters in Vicksburg, Miss., which is today buried beneath the levee-topping Yazoo river. The destruction in Vicksburg–where the water is expected to crest at 57.1 feet today–and along the Yazoo River (where the images in the gallery above were taken) is just a microcosm of the larger devastation stretching from the Great Lakes to the Gulf.