ROCHEPORT — The Katy Trail Bed and Breakfast has had about a half-dozen cancellations this summer from patrons scared off by Missouri River flooding.
For Brett Dufur, owner of the bed and breakfast, the problem is that Rocheport isn't flooded — and won't be any time soon.
"Rocheport doesn't actually sit in the floodplain," Dufur said. "A lot of people have a false perception of that. Rocheport is still high and dry, and we expect it to be for a while."
On Wednesday, Dufur and the low-lying reaches of Rocheport gained extra flood protection. A crew of about 15 Boone County workers laid a row of concrete Jersey barriers along the Katy Trail.
Crews expect to have 1,700 feet of the concrete slabs in place and lined with plastic by Friday evening. The barriers, each standing 3 feet high and weighing 2 1/4 tons, act as a levee that withstands river levels up to 34 feet. The properties directly behind the trail would flood at 31 feet without the barrier.
Friday was the second time since 2007 that barriers have been placed along the trail in Rocheport for flood protection, Rocheport Mayor John Zondca said. The trail remains open until floodwaters reach the barriers, he said.
The barriers need to be lined with sandbags to become water-tight and fully effective, Zondca said. When the river reaches 27 feet, those sandbags will be put in place, as will sandbags along Moniteau Creek, which backs up into a handful of properties when the river floods.
"We're not sandbagging anywhere yet," Zondca said. "This is the part that requires the most heavy equipment, so we'll get it out of the way now. That way, if something does happen in the next three or four weeks and we're busy, we don't have to do an emergency pull off. They're just preparations so that we won't be caught behind the 8-ball on anything."
Rocheport proper sits well above the Missouri River's floodplain. Flooding from the record 37.1-foot crest at Boonville was limited to low-lying houses and businesses along the Katy, including Dufur's Bed and Breakfast. The Missouri River was 22.9 feet on the Boonville gauge Friday and is forecast to dip below its 21-foot flood stage Monday for the first time in weeks.
Zondca said he has aspirations to elevate the lowest portion of the trail in Rocheport at least 3 feet to give the town a natural levee for flood stages up to 35 feet. The plan would cost somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000, he said, and Rocheport can't afford it. It costs the county about $150,000 to set and remove the barriers, which is why Zondca hopes for a more permanent solution.
"If we have to do this every three or four years, it makes sense," Zonca said. "In the two years we've laid it, we've spent at least the same amount of money."