On November 3-4, 2017, Tarek El Moussa, along with a group of Real Estate Elevated students, worked on rebuilding the home of Zipporah Smith, which was flooded with 2-feet of water by Hurricane Harvey in August.
Zipporah moved to Houston with her 3 children after her home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Unfortunately, this is the second time her home has been deemed unlivable by catastrophic flooding. Her children, Zariah, 18, Z’Andre, 16, and Za’Nya, 15 are living at a hotel with Zipporah until her home is completed. Houston Habitat for Humanity estimates she will be back in her home by Thanksgiving!
Zipporah is one of the kindest and most personable people you will ever meet. She absolutely loves Texas and Houston, and she was so grateful for the efforts of all of the volunteers over the weekend. She diligently watches every episode of Flip or Flop, and she loves the transformations that Tarek and Christina complete in homes. So naturally, she was 100% star struck when Tarek El Moussa arrived at her home.
When the hurricane hit back in August, Zipporah’s home started flooding. She went on Facebook to ask if there was anyone in their area that could come rescue her and her children. Thanks to her friends and family who shared the Facebook post, a kind neighbor was able to drive his truck through the water to save her and her children from the flooding. They had to wade through waist deep water to get to the truck, carrying only a few of their belongings in backpacks that they held over their heads.
As soon as she was rescued from the flooding, her and her kids were taken to UPD. Zipporah works for the Houston Police Department as a Senior Police Service Officer, and she began working 12-hour shifts taking call after call of people begging to be rescued from their homes.
When Zipporah was finally able to return to her home, she found most of her furniture and belongings were destroyed from the water. That’s when Habitat for Humanity Houston stepped in. And thanks to generous donations, they were able to start work on mucking and rebuilding Zipporah’s home.
A total of 12 people helped on the 2-day rebuild. The team was able to hang drywall, putty nail holes, tape and mud seams and hang doors. The group included: Tarek El Moussa from Orange County, California; Janine Halversen from Salt Lake City, Utah; Carter Brown from Orem, Utah; Cortney Edwards from Burleson, Texas; Andrea Rosales and Tuly Vasquez from Midland, Texas; Rachel Frayre, Jose Ramirez, and Gabriel Frayre from El Paso, Texas; Kendrick Martin from Beaumont, Texas; and Holly Stephens and Mary Kaye Washo from Fort Worth, Texas.
In total, the group of volunteers traveled over 17,036 miles roundtrip to help with the 2-day rebuild for Zipporah Smith. That many miles is like driving from LA to NYC over 6 times! The students were hardworking, positive, and a joy to work with. At the end of the work day, one of the students, Mary Kaye Washo, asked if we could do it again! She loved it, and wants to be involved with more giving back initiatives. All of the students want Zipporah’s information so they can send her gift cards to help with the cost of replacing her and her children’s belongings. These students are amazing.
We are excited for Zipporah and her children to live in a beautiful home again.