LULING - Off-road vehicles are fun to drive, but they can also do a lot of damage to wet, muddy ground.
Recently, some ATV riders tore up a new section of the West Hurricane Protection Levee in Luling. St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran says the damage compromises the integrity of the levee, designed to keep floodwaters out of the Willowdale and Willow Ridge subdivisions.
"We're going to have to back drag it, re-seed it, everything, the whole nine yards," Cochran said. "It's going to cost residents money."
Deep tire tracks cut into the levee and sections are starting to erode away. Willow Ridge neighbors are frustrated and angered by the vandalism.
"Hurricane season is right around the corner and we need all the protection we can get," neighbor Pete Murla said. "If anyone knows who's using the ATVs, we encourage them to stop because all you're doing is hurting the community."
"It's definitely heartbreaking," neighbor Adam Young said. "Especially with all the work being done on it lately. We're thankful to have the levee back there."
The six-foot high levees had just been seeded when the damage was done. Grass is the glue that holds these flood control structures together.
"It keeps it from eroding an all," Cochran said. "When you start getting water on the other side of that levee, you need that grass at that point."
One neighbor suggested the parish set aside a piece of land for ATV riders, to help keep them off the levees.
"Just another opportunity for the kids to have something to do, besides getting into trouble," Young said.
St. Charles leaders are asking neighbors to please call the sheriff's office if they hear riders on the levee.