One man has gone to extraordinary lengths to save his family’s home from rising floodwaters…by building a giant levee and moat system.
Russell Petty, 50, of DeValls Bluff, Arkansas spent several weeks excavating and piling sand bags, including with the help of 100 friends and neighbors, reports The New York Times.
Mr Petty’s home is menaced by high water from the nearby White River, in a state that has been badly battered by flooding and tornadoes this spring.
DeValls Bluff, a town of 783 residents, is east of Little Rock in Prairie County.
According to The Times, Mr Petty began trying to save his three-bedroom house and three-acre property late last month, as heavy rains fuelled fears of impending flooding.
Mr Petty, who is reportedly a car mechanic, does not carry flood insurance, according to the paper, despite his property’s exposure to danger.
Mr Petty rented an excavator to dig a moat and pile the soil on the outside rim to form a levee.
A diesel-fuelled pump, driven by a tractor, pushes out water that seeps in through the base of the makeshift structure.
Mr Petty is reportedly staying on the property to man the pump, to make sure it doesn’t fail — were it to do so, his levee would most likely collapse.
Mr Petty reportedly sleeps in his empty house with a life jacket. Neighbors, as many as 100 strong, had come earlier to move his family’s belongings to higher ground, as well as to pile more sandbags onto the walls.
For now at least, the floodwaters have been held at bay.
Mr Petty told The Times ‘it was hard and humbling’ that so many people volunteered to help him save his property, including some folks he didn’t even know.
‘I overworked a lot of good men’ he said.
Mr Petty’s wife is reportedly staying with family, while their two grown-up sons have been helping their dad with the armoring of their defenses.
Dramatic video of the Pettys’ moat system has been posted on YouTube, clearly showing how the level of surrounding water is well above the house.
One of the video’s shooters, who arrived in a flat-bottom boat, estimated that the water level was even with the three-bedroom home’s upper windows.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced they will open a spill way on the Mississippi River for the first time in 40 years, in a dramatic move to save downriver cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Some 22,500 residents and 11,000 buildings are in the soon-to-be flooded area, which is being evacuated.
No word on how many may be readying their own moats.
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