Back in May, the town of Joplin was the victim of a devastating tornado that claimed the lives of over 150 people and destroyed an estimated 2,000 buildings. But now the ABC network hit television show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," has begun to lend a helping hand to seven families in the area.
As of Wednesday Oct. 19, construction is underway to build seven homes in seven days.
"It's a lofty goal, but that's what we're going for. It can happen. It's going to happen. It has to happen," producer Jeff Cruz told 'The Joplin Globe.'
The Associated Press reports that the new homes are being built a few blocks from where the town's hospital was located. Sam Clifton, the contractor overseeing the ambitious project, came up with the idea of helping more than just one family. The seven homes being built will all be located on the same street and are similar in size, between 1,300-1,800-square feet.
"We want to help get the community going," Clifton said. "Get some excitement going in the town. That's my goal."
Two of the families' who will be featured on the show are the Whitelys and the Howards. Crystal Whitely took cover with her three children in a bathtub, in which only herself and her four-year-old daughter survived. Kyle Howard, a firefighter, was working the night of the tornado and helped rescue a number of trapped and injured residents.
Clifton also said that 10,000 volunteers and 21 contractors have signed up to help with the reconstruction in Joplin.
The show also generously paid for the families to take a vacation to Disney World for the week, while the crew vigorously works on their new homes. On Oct. 26, host Ty Pennington, will order the bus to be moved and the families will see their homes for the first time.
The episode will be the 200th episode for the program, and is scheduled to air Jan. 20.
About the authors
Students in Steve Fox's Investigative Journalism & the Web class at UMass-Amherst have teamed up with the Globe to take a close-up look at the painful process of rebuilding from the June 2011 tornadoes that killed four and devastated communities in the Springfield area. Their work will also appear in the Boston Globe. Steve joined the journalism faculty at UMass-Amherst in 2007 and has 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at The Washington Post's award-winning website.