Meadows Drive, which is lined with Section 8 housing and criminal activity, has become a source of fear, crime and intimidation for the residents of Red Church subdivision, in particular, residents of Longview Drive who share back yards with the homes on Meadows Drive.
In the months following Hurricane Katrina, the situation on Meadows Drive has become severe and residents are banding together against the inner city problem that has taken up residence in their otherwise quaint neighborhood.
New residents that moved to Longview Drive following Katrina are complaining that they were not informed by their real estate agents that they were sharing a back yard with a street that is primarily Section 8 housing and has had a long history of criminal activity. Many have regretted purchasing a home on Longview Drive after personally witnessing criminal activity on numerous occasions
"We moved into our home on Longview Drive in March of 2005. Unbeknownst to us there was Section 8 housing directly behind our street," said David Toal, a Longview Drive resident. "We found out about the Section 8 housing after calling the police when three butcher knives, 8" in length, were thrown over our fence into our backyard. If we had known this, we would have never bought this house. Aside from problems in our own backyard, we have heard gun shots, loud music, loud parties, arguing, and kids running unsupervised in the streets and through people's backyards. It is no secret that Red Church's home values and residents are adversely affected by the unacceptable standard of living occurring on Meadows Drive," Toal concluded.
Several of the residents residing on Longview Drive have declined to be mentioned by name in this story because they continuously fear for the safety of their children and personal property. One such resident said, "I have personally witnessed a person trying to steal an air compressor from the property of one of my neighbors. Thugs walk the streets all hours of the night and my child is scared to death to play in the front yard. We had our problems before Katrina but now it has gotten much worse. I recently drove down Meadows Drive looking for a bike that was stolen from us and as soon as I turned on the street, people started walking up to my vehicle saying ’We can get anything you need, what do you want?’ They saw I didn't belong there and were trying to sell me drugs."
“The people who are living on Meadows Drive are different than the people who lived there before Katrina. These are inner city thugs. They are living with in-laws and relatives. With the new residents comes the crime, drugs and theft,” said a Longview Drive resident.
Another un-named resident says, "Several years ago, my teenage son was walking home at night from a fair at St. Charles Borromeo when he was approached by three men walking on a empty lot, which is now Krystal Clear Car Wash. They demanded drugs and money from my son. When my son informed the men that he did not have any of what they demanded, he was assaulted and mugged just a short distance from own home. We reported this to the police."
The resident went on to say, "When we came back from evacuating from Hurricane Katrina, two weeks after the storm, we noticed our property had been burglarized. We had evidence of breaking through our outside gate door. A power tool was stolen from our shed. Only one day after returning to our home, we witnessed a guy climbing over our backyard fence from Meadows Drive. When he saw us, he jumped back in and ran. We assumed he was coming back for more tools. We also reported this to the police."
Council "Ram" Ramchandran has expressed his deep concern regarding the growing criminal activity in the Red Church area. "We have tried on several occasions to place a fence between Meadows Drive and Longview Drive. Unfortunately, it was vandalized and torn down several times. It is clear that some of the criminal activity from New Orleans has moved into Destrehan. I urge residents to band together and inform the Sheriff of the criminal activity in the area."
“Meadows Drive has been a problem for years,” said Sheriff Greg Champagne of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office. “Everywhere there is Section 8 housing there is an above average number of people prone to criminal activity. Section 8 housing is a federal program and there is little the Sheriff’s Office can do about that. I urge citizens to call the Sheriff’s Office whenever anything goes wrong or if they witness any kind of criminal activity. I assure citizens that officers will patrol the area vigorously and enforce the 10 p.m. curfew for all residents under the age of 16. We will do all we can to respond promptly to calls from citizens,” the Sheriff concluded.