St. Charles Parish officials blame levee damage on ATV riders

St. Charles Parish officials blame levee damage on ATV riders

ST. CHARLES PARISH, LA (WVUE) - St. Charles Parish leaders are calculating the cost to repair damage to a new levee in Luling. They say ATV riders have put thousands of homes in jeopardy.

"It's very distressing, but I'm hoping it's just kids with nothing better to do," said parish President Larry Cochran. "Summer's here and they don't realize what they're doing. That's what I'm hoping."

The levee was finished in May, and officials said the grass seed was planted but didn't have a chance to take root because of the damage.  They say the roots of the grass are the "glue" that holds the earthen levee together.

The levee protects thousands of homes in the Willowdale area and was funded almost entirely by the taxpayers.

Cochran said there will be signs up when the levee is repaired warning people that damaging levees is against the law.

"It's a lot of money to our taxpayers," Cochran said. "I will go after them, yes I will."

This neighborhood didn't flood during Katrina, but neighbors say a strong south wind can send in water from Barataria Bay in. Now the new levee will have to dry out, be smoothed out and reseeded.

Taxpayers passed a four-mil property tax in May 2015 to pay for the levee. Leaders are still trying to figure out if the damage is in the thousands, tens of thousands or more.

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