As survivors reeled from the catastrophe they got some good news from the 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' gang, who announced they would help rebuild homes for some of those dispossessed by the tragedy.
In what producers say is one of the largest projects ever undertaken by the reality show, 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' started work Wednesday on the ambitious plan to build seven houses in seven days.
'Good Morning America' host Sam Champion was on hand to reveal the names of the deserving families -- some of whom lost children in the disaster -- who will benefit from the new homes. 'GMA' will be reporting on progress throughout the week leading up to Ty Pennington's "Move the bus!" on Oct. 26.
Thanking all the volunteers who've donated time, services and goods, builder Sam Clifton, who is leading the construction project, told the AP he hoped it would help galvanize the still struggling town. "We want to help get the community going. Get some excitement going in the town. That's my goal."
Senior producer Diane Korman said "This is what we do. We look for families in trouble and how to help them."
As originally planned, the houses will all be built on the same block, a few blocks from the city's hospital, which was destroyed in the tornado. Clifton said the new units will be functional, 1,300- to 1,800-square-foot homes, each with its own design and style.
Clifton estimated that over 10,000 people have volunteered to help out, along with 21 general contractors and hundreds of skilled craftsmen. All of the materials for the project were donated, and helpers at local churches will be preparing about 30,000 meals for those involved in the building process.
With volunteers working around the clock in 12-hour shifts the AP reports that the foundations of the new houses have already been poured, floors are down and the are walls up. "We've got people that lost their houses who wanted to come help us," Clifton said.
The recipients have been sent on vacation to Disney World while the work is carried out. They all lost their homes in the tornado and their stories are truly heart-wrenching.
They include two single moms named Crystal, who both lost children in the tragedy. Crystal Whitely took cover with her three children in a bathtub, but the two older ones were killed when the house was torn off its foundatuions. Crystal Cogdill lost her nine year-old son Zach afer the wind ripped him from her arms.
'GMA' will be reporting on progress each morning and will air one family's reaction -- the Howards -- to their new home's reveal live on air Wednesday, Oct. 26. Joplin firefighter Kyle Howard was on duty the night of the tornado and kept working even though he didn't know if his family had survived.
The Joplin build will feature as the show's landmark 200th episode, due to air in January.
Watch the reaction of the Howard family when Sam Champion knocked on their door yesterday morning:
'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' airs Fridays, 8PM ET on ABC.
'Good Morning America' airs weekdays, 7-9AM ET, on ABC.
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