Building a house in a week is always a challenge for the 60 crew members who work on the ABC reality show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” but this week they faced a double whammy: first an earthquake, then a 600-mile wide hurricane named Irene.
The hit television program is building a soup kitchen and home in the Rehoboth Beach area of Delaware for Dale Dunning and her husband Ken, who have been providing food for hundreds of needy residents for a dozen years.
Work at the site began on Monday, then the mid-Atlantic region was hit by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday.
The rude interruptions from Mother Nature continued on Friday, when the show’s executive producer George Verschoor; the local builder, Schell Brothers; and government officials called off work until after Hurricane Irene passed.
The site is about 10 miles inland, and not in a mandatory evacuation zone. But Verschoor said they decided to stop work to ensure the safety of the crew and thousands of volunteers — many of whom clamored to stay despite the monster storm.
Crew members are riding out the storm at three hotels in Maryland and Delaware, while their caterer, operating from a mobile food truck, is taking care of the crew’s food needs.
“We’ve had blizzards and pretty extreme weather, but this is the first time we’ve had to shut down because of a hurricane,” Verschoor told Reuters. “The volunteers were so disappointed we told them that we have to leave.”
The crew had hoped to present the Dunning family with the completed project on Monday, but has delayed the “reveal” by host Ty Pennington until Tuesday, Verschoor said.
Verschoor hopes to get the team back to work on the six-acre site on Sunday, just hours after the storm hits the area. He said there were about 40-60 hours of work still left to do there. The show will air around Thanksgiving.
The new season of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” premieres Sunday, Sept.25, on ABC.