2 Missouri communities weigh possible flood buyouts

SIKESTON (AP) — Two small communities in southeast Missouri devastated by the spring flooding are weighing the possibility of buyouts. But officials in both Pinhook and Morehouse are reluctant to split up their communities.

The Southeast Missourian reports that U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., took part in a round-table discussion Thursday on damage caused by flooding along the Mississippi River and some tributaries in April and May. Among the topics discussed was potential buyout of the two communities.

Leaders in Pinhook, a town of 48 residents, favor a $1.7 million federal buyout of 21 properties. The town was devastated in May when the Army Corps of Engineers intentionally breached the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri to lessen flooding in nearby Cairo, Ill.

“The whole town was completely inundated,” said Steve Duke, executive director of the Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission. “They’re really interested in participating in a buyout.”

But residents would like to relocate as a whole to a site of about 40 acres in one of three counties, Duke said. His commission has looked into that possibility, though he said doing so would be a financial challenge, even though limited money may be available for relocation assistance.

Blunt was skeptical the largely poor community could be transplanted as a whole.

“I don’t see how you could possibly relocate an entire community for what Pinhook’s been valued at,” Blunt said. “I’m just having a hard time seeing where you’d get the money.”

Blunt was told Morehouse Mayor Pete Leija isn’t sold on a buyout because of requirements that prohibit development on bought-out land. The town has about 900 residents.

“He’s really uncomfortable with the deed restrictions,” Duke said.

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