Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Family With Local Ties Affected By Tropical Storm Harvey

The Zipters of Houston, Texas were flooded by tropical storm Harvey. Cami Zipter is a 1987 Highlands graduate.
As tropical storm Harvey ripped through Texas this week, it displaced nearly 30,000 residents, destroyed homes and took the lives of at least 14 people as of yesterday with more fatalities expected.

The National Weather Service said the storm has broken the all-time U.S. rainfall record from a tropical storm or hurricane, causing catastrophic flooding. The rain continues to fall and spread into Louisiana.

In the midst of the devastation, Fort Thomas native Cami Heiert Zipter, who lives in Houston with her husband and four children was stranded with her family on the second floor of their house as they watched the water rush toward their home.


Zipter said the hard rain came on Sunday and never did she imagine their house which is in an area that has never flood ever would do just that. However, in just a short period of time, the Zipters watched the water come up the backyard and inside. They were able to bring irreplaceable items like photos and keepsakes up to the second floor with as much furniture and items as they could. Along with the two cats, their dog, a fish and lots of water, protein bars, crackers, fruit and whatever they could grab, they stayed until a rescue crew came with kayaks and jet skis.

A view from the Zipters backyard as flood waters rose
Zipter described the scene out of a movie, climbing out of the windows to get out of the house, holding their bags high in the air, their entire first floor under water. Rudi, Cami's husband stayed behind with the pets so that rescue crews could help others in worse situations and also to protect the home. She said there had been people who tried to break into the affected homes in the neighborhood.

Everything on the first floor of their home was ruined including the family's three cars.

Currently, Zipter and her children are staying with a friend.

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We spoke with Cami yesterday who was at her church helping with donations.

"I can't tell you how overwhelmed I have been. I can't even keep up with people who have called and high school friends who have reached out and poured their hearts out,  even people I worked with 20 years ago, Zipter said.

It's a life-changing event to see the generosity that even strangers can give, she added. This is something you want to remember and want to pay back."

Inside the Zipters church where relief efforts were described as overwhelming
 
Cami said the response for help and donations were over-flowing at their church.

On Tuesday, Cami said she was in the gym at the church where people brought food, water, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, toys, etc.

Joe Heiert, Cami's father said today he was in tears from the concern and generosity of the people in Ft Thomas and wants to thank everyone for their thoughts.

"I hope the hundreds of  thousands of other displaced families in Houston get the same support," Heiert added.

Fort Thomas residents Nick and Gina Stegner have set up a gofundme page to help the Zipters with expenses. They said that while FEMA will help the families of this disaster, the Zipters did not have flood insurance since they do not live in a flood plain.

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Nick who graduated with Cami from Highlands in 1987 said, "I grew up in Fort Thomas, a community that has always looked out for each other in good times and the bad. People stepped up to help my family a few years ago when my son was in a car accident. Strangers, friends...so many.

I will continue to pay that forward every chance I get. Cami and I grew up together and went through school together. That Fort Thomas bond didn't go away after she moved. She will always be a part of this community. When I saw what was unfolding in Texas, I instantly thought of the many friends I have in that area. I reached out to Cami, asked her what was happening there and offered my help. Even though this country is at a boiling point over many issues, when it's time to help each other, people step up like true Americans."

To help the Zipter family, visit the gofundme page here.

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