In what will be its most ambitious – and emotional – undertaking to date, ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is heading to Joplin, Mo. to rebuild seven homes in seven days for families whose houses were ravaged in the devastating May 22 tornado.
“It’s a lofty goal, but that’s what we’re going for,” producer Jeff Cruz told The Joplin Globe. “It can happen. It’s going to happen. It has to happen.”
The spring tornado was one of the most destructive natural disasters in Missouri history, damaging over 7,000 buildings and claiming a reported 160 lives.
Cruz and his production team are now trying to make the difficult choice of which nominated families to zero in on. “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.”
Watch a Recent Rebuild for a Visually Impaired Couple:
The show is currently seeking building material donations and up to 10,000 volunteers.
Project leader and Nixa, Mo. mayor Sam Clifton, who previously worked on a 2009 episode of the Emmy-winning reality series, said in a statement that this will be “one of the most ambitious construction projects ever attempted in our area.” He said he was “thrilled” to be a part of the efforts, adding, “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.”
According to Clifton, 14 local builders have already signed up. He anticipates a need for 4,500 skilled volunteers and approximately 5,000 general able bodies.
Groundbreaking for the weeklong build will begin Oct. 19 – the same day the show will announce which families have been chosen.
“We really hope we can showcase Joplin in the light of rebuilding,” Clifton said. “We just hope that the spirit shows through.”
The ninth season of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” premieres Sunday, Sept. 25 at 7/6c.