The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

September 1, 2011

ABC show to build houses for Joplin tornado victims

By Emily Younker

JOPLIN, Mo. — In what is being billed as one of the largest projects in the history of the reality TV program, ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” hopes to build seven houses in seven days for Joplin families that lost their homes in the May 22 tornado.

“It’s a lofty goal, but that’s what we’re going for,” producer Jeff Cruz said Thursday before meeting in Joplin with several of the builders involved in the project. “It can happen. It’s going to happen. It has to happen.”

Cruz said officials with the reality show are still trying to determine a location for the construction. He said the houses will “definitely” be built within the same block somewhere in the tornado zone. An announcement could be made as early as next week, he said.

Also still to be determined are the seven families that will receive those homes. Cruz said executives with the show are looking at a group of families that have applied or been nominated, and are trying to pare that number down.

“As you can imagine, it’s a hard decision,” he said. “It’s hard to pick and choose between people who were victims of circumstance.”

Cruz said the show still seeks donations of building materials and volunteers. He said up to 10,000 volunteers will be needed during the week; 3,300 people had signed up in the 24 hours after the show’s initial announcement last week.

The project will be led by Sam Clifton, president of Millstone Custom Homes in Nixa. He teamed up with the reality show two years ago to help build a home for a family in Ash Grove.

“Building these seven homes in seven days will be one of the most ambitious construction projects ever attempted in our area,” Clifton said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be a part of this massive undertaking. It will be no small task, but our team is eager to help rebuild Joplin in the aftermath of the devastation we experienced in May.”

Clifton said 14 local builders have already offered to be part of the project. He expects he also will need 4,500 skilled volunteers and around 5,000 general volunteers.

The project is being labeled “anchor” construction and is hoped to provide the foundation for rebuilding part of the city’s housing stock, executives with the show have said.

The weeklong effort will begin Oct. 19. Cruz said the families that have been selected for the homes will be announced that morning.

“We really hope we can showcase Joplin in the light of rebuilding,” he said. “We just hope that the spirit shows through.”

Information and more

TO VOLUNTEER, donate or learn more about the project, people may go to