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Here’s how neighbors responded to Overland Park family stuck on their roof in flood

Family rescued after taking shelter from flood waters on roof of house for eight hours

An Overland Park family climbed to the roof of their house near the Blue River last month to escape flood waters that surrounded their home. Private citizens with a large truck rescued the family after they had been on the roof for eight hours.
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An Overland Park family climbed to the roof of their house near the Blue River last month to escape flood waters that surrounded their home. Private citizens with a large truck rescued the family after they had been on the roof for eight hours.

Remember the Overland Park family stranded for eight hours on the roof of their flooded home nearly two weeks ago?

Their neighbors and friends certainly have not forgotten them.

On Saturday afternoon a group of friends was hard at work hauling the remaining contents of the four-bedroom house out to the yard. Nearly everything the Yepez-Martinez family owns was stacked beneath a metal carport or filled a large, blue dumpster in the driveway.

Inside, smelly mud still coats the hardwood floors of the house in the 15500 block of Kenneth Road. A few pieces of water-logged furniture remain standing in the bedrooms.

But mom, Felicitas Yepez, was smiling. She sat in her yard sharing a meal of burgers and fries with four of the women she plays soccer with most Monday nights at All American Indoor Sports. The women were taking a break from cleaning out the house, a task they had been at for most of the morning and afternoon.

Yepez’s teammates were just the latest friends to lend a hand to the family of seven after hearing about their ordeal.

“They have been embraced by the community,” said Peggy Cull, one of Yepez’s teammates. “People have been coming every day to help them. That’s what America is all about, helping your neighbors.”

Yepez, who teammates said is always “positive, uplifting and happy,” held back tears talking about the help she’s received from friends and neighbors.

“I can’t pay each person back for this,” Yepez said. “I don’t know how to give this back but to say thank you. I have never received this kind of help before. I don’t know if I am a good person, but these are good people.”

A torrential rain storm forced raging waters from the Blue River and flooded the Yepez home — three or four feet — in the middle of the night on Aug. 21.

The family, their dog Juero and two puppies took refuge on their roof through the night.

“I was so scared,” said Aurora Yepez-Martinez, who is 13 and in eighth grade. “I was afraid to sleep because I thought I was going to slide off the house. And it was cold.”

Their first help came about 12:30 p.m. the next day when a good Samaritan plowed his eight-wheeled Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck through the water to rescue the stranded clan.

When word about their flooding got out, immediately friends came to their aid. Three different families in the Blue Valley school district community offered to house members of the Yepez-Martinez family. Blue River Elementary School held a garage sale with all the proceeds going to help the family. Donations of clothing, food and toiletries came in from Blue Valley High School along with lots of cards and letters.

Neighbors joined forces to repair the mowers and equipment the father, Emiliano Yepez-Martinez, uses in his landscaping business. His machines were damaged in the flood.

A friend set up a GoFundMe disaster relief account for the family. More than $23,400 has been raised. And the brother of one of Yepez’s soccer teammates flips houses and has offered to let the Yepez-Martinez family move into one of them temporarily — “so that the family can be together and until they get back on their feet,” said Lenora Berg a teammate.

“This is a good family,” said Roger Slead, whose children play soccer with the Yepez-Martinez children. Slead is letting some of the Yepez-Martinez children and their father stay at his home.

“I think they found out they have a lot of friends and neighbors in this community who care about them,” Slead said. “We just wanted to help as best we can. It’s going to be a long road for them, maybe months. But fortunately they have a lot of friends in it for the long haul.”

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc

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