If ever a town was between a rock and a hard place, it would be Dutchtown. The Cape Girardeau County community at the crossroads of highways 25 and 74 has experienced more floods than residents there like to recall. Under consideration for several years has been the construction of a levee that would protect the highways and the town. But after flooding earlier this year, residents also considered the possibility of federal buyouts. In a poll during a recent meeting to discuss the dilemma, 23 of the towns 42 property owners voted 16-7 in favor of the levee.
In order to get the levee, Dutchtown must come up with a significant share of the cost. So far, the town has raised about $500,000. But the total cost -- and the town's share -- keeps climbing. The latest estimate for building a levee is $1.4 million.
There are lots of reasons most of Dutchtown's residents in the poll favored the levee over buyouts. One is that the property owners would be entitled to 100 percent of their property's preflood value in a buyout, but the federal government would pay only 75 percent. The rest is supposed to come from the town. And then there's the fact that a buyout wouldn't add any flood protection for the highways, which are heavily used to get to and from jobs in the Cape Girardeau area.
Some residents believe the cost of a levee can be held in check with a frugal plan. But time isn't on the side of Dutchtown residents who want to stay in their homes without fear of future flooding.