WATSON — Amanda Toups was stunned when her husband, Kyle Toups, sent her a picture Friday morning of an excavator tearing up their front yard.
The couple, both in their early 20s, live in the Quail Creek subdivision on Quail Creek Drive, just off La. 1019 in Watson. A new house is being built across the street from their home.
Amanda Toups said she and her husband left for work around 6:30 a.m. Friday. When Kyle Toups returned home later in the morning and found the excavator there, he walked up to the workers to see what was up.
“Y’all better wrap it up. My wife is going to be mad,” Amanda Toups said her husband told the workers.
And mad she was.
The excavator was gone around noon, Amanda Toups said. But not before digging a hole in their front yard at least 5 feet wide.
It’s a yard the young couple has gone to considerable effort and expense to maintain.
Toups said that when she and her husband bought the house in July, the grass in the backyard was dead and the yard was covered in sand. They were told to water it constantly.
To this day, Toups said, parts of the backyard are still dead and covered in sand. She said their first water bill was $107 because of all the watering.
“We’ve been letting nature run its course in the back yard, and it hasn’t worked,” she said.
Aside from her yard being ruined by the excavator, Toups said, she and her husband were never told in advance the crews would be digging in their front yard for the water work related to the new house.
Toups said she called Livingston Parish Ward 2 Water District, which handles water services for the neighborhood, to voice her frustration Friday. A receptionist said she would have to put in a work order to handle the mess.
Toups called again later in the day and reached the foreman for the project. She said the foreman told her they would lay dirt in the hole and “let nature take its course.” He said resodding the grass or planting grass seeds were not options.
“He didn’t seem to have any sympathy that my front yard is ruined,” Toups said Monday while standing on her yard.
Toups responded by placing a sign in her front yard, right in the middle of the dirt patch that Ward 2 dug.
The sign reads, “Shame on Ward 2” and “Don’t tread on me,” with an American flag planted next to it. Ward 2’s phone number is written on the sign.
The general manager for Livingston Parish Ward 2 Water District, Preston Killcrease, admitted the workers failed to notify the couple about the work they needed to do in their yard.
Killcrease said crews had to dig in the Toups’ yard in order to reach the water main, then redirect part of the main to supply water to the new house across the street.
“The main’s only (on) one side of the road. It just happened to be on her side of the road,” Killcrease said.
Killcrease said he was unaware of the situation until he received a work order Monday, noting the foreman had told him the yard was “pretty well dressed up” after the digging.
“I didn’t know it was in the shape that the lady said it was in,” Killcrease said.
He said he plans to visit the Toups’ yard Tuesday to check out the dirt pile and to make sure their yard is remedied as soon as the weather clears.
“If it’s dirty or messed up, we will dress it up and we will plant the sod back if we have to,” Killcrease said.