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Drenching rains lead to backyard erosion in Liberty neighborhood

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LIBERTY, Mo. -- The remnants of last week's heavy rain are still appearing.

A series of backyards in Clay County is paying the price, slowly slipping away, eroding under the weight of recent rainfall.

Step into yards just off Yancey Street on Liberty’s north side, and neighbors will show you how their yards are getting smaller and smaller. People living there say this isn't an area known for heavy flooding, but last week, water came bursting from the creek’s banks, leaving homeowners with a growing hole in their backyards.

“The next rain, if we get another heavy rain, we're going to lose more of our yard,” homeowner Betty Davis said.

The soil surrounding the creek has fallen off. Neighbors say they began to notice the change last Friday, as a week that included five to seven inches of rain. One neighbor estimated the big hole has tripled in size, growing to 20 feet across as of Thursday evening.

“I don't know if the danger's there, but it doesn't look good,” homeowner Joe Boothe said. “It looks as bad as you can get.”

Boothe, 76, and his wife, Elaine, have lived in their home for over 10 years. He was the first to notice the crumbling creek bank. A cable television repair technician was on property to repair equipment, and pointed out the damage.

“He asked me if I knew the neighbor's yard was falling in. I said, ‘No, I really hadn't paid that much attention’,” Boothe said.

When he looked into the yard next door, and the eroding land that stretches toward his property, Boothe realized the seriousness of the situation.

“We're not people of means. We're living on a fixed income. Obviously, if it takes our backyard out, it's going to affect the value of our property,” Boothe told FOX 4 News.

The water has gone down since last week, but the hole is pretty deep, well over six feet from creek bed to rim.

“It rained like three nights in a row,” Davis said.

Davis owns that yard next door. She says she's seen the water rise in that creek, but not with damaging potential.

“My son says we'll probably come home someday and the back of the house will be gone. I don't know how much of it will have to drop before it gets to the house,” Davis said.

Both homeowners say they've contacted the city's public works department.

“They said they'd get to it. They said they'd send someone out. They haven't yet,” Davis lamented.

Andy Noll, Liberty’s assistant director of public works, told FOX 4 News this erosion might be the homeowner’s responsibility to repair. He says his department doesn’t often deal with the natural flow of rivers and streams.