To look across Nichole Kibler’s backyard, you’d think you were looking at a lake.
On Sunday, there was about 3-4 feet of water accumulated behind Kibler’s home on South Eagle Valley Road near the Centre County line, partially submerging a large trampoline, her barn and her neighbor’s camper. The flooding stretches across at least three backyards.
The home of one of her neighbors had to be evacuated due to water in the heat ducts, while two fire companies spent Saturday night pumping out 2 1/2-3 feet of water from Kibler’s basement.
Despite the almost constant rainfall in the region since Thursday, Kibler says the root of this flooding issue goes much further.
“This cannot be blamed on just the rain this weekend. Did it cause more water in our basements? Absolutely. I mean we have some pumps running 24/7 and it’s coming in our basement faster than it can pump it out. And when we pump it out, we’re just pumping it out into the yard where there’s more water,” she said.
This level of water has been present in Kibler and her neighbors’ backyards for about three weeks, she said. And this issue has been ongoing for several years.
Next door neighbor Ron Barger said he has one to two pumps working full time to keep the water at bay, while Ron Boyles, who lives across the street, said he had to shower at the gym, since his home runs on a septic tank.
“When we bought this property almost two years ago, that water would come up then recede within hours,” Barger said. “Then all the sudden it would come up, then it would take a little bit longer. Then it was a day, then two days. Now it’s just not going anywhere.”
The flooding, according to Kibler, is caused by a drain pipe behind their homes that gets clogged with debris from beavers building dams along the Bald Eagle Creek.
Whose responsibility it is to keep that pipe clear has been a point of contention between the game commission and the Nittany and Bald Eagle Railroad, said Kibler, whose father used to take on that responsibility until the railroad built a private access road to where the pipe is located.
Kibler said the game commission has gone back and cleared out three dams, and given the residents rights to shoot and trap beavers all year to help manage the nuisance.
However, the pipe itself is still not being cleared, which Kibler said is the responsibility of the railroad.
“I’ve talked to the property manager and the track superintendent, and the property manager informed us that they have a meeting on Tuesday to talk about the issue, and this has been weeks going, so I don’t believe that talking is what we need to be doing right now,” she said.
The residents are already starting to see permanent damage caused by the excess water, which they say has been getting worse. Kibler said her 12-year-old home has a crack in its foundation, from one end to the other, because of the soft ground, while Boyles said all of his farmland is underwater.
“It’s not like one person is upset about it, one person’s complaining,” Kibler said. “Three families are affected by this and it’s just a matter of maintaining your property. Get it cleaned up and maintain it.”
Representatives from the Nittany and Bald Eagle Railroad and Pennsylvania Game Commission could not be reached Sunday.