Tomorrow I’m going back to New Jersey. It’s a trip I’ve made a hundred times since I left the Garden State more than 20 years ago to attend college in Worcester, Mass. And even though I settled in Massachusetts and have called it home ever since, Jersey has never left my system. It’s where I was born and where most of my family still lives; my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. It’s where I grew up, went to grade school and high school and played Little League. And it’s where I still go every Thanksgiving and every summer, to spend a week’s vacation on the Jersey Shore.
But my upcoming trip and the ones that will follow won’t revolve around fun or family – they’ll be all about work. This season on This Old House we decided to take on the destruction wrought by Super Storm Sandy, arguably one of the most devastating housing catastrophes in U.S. history. Cast and crew will head to the Jersey Shore as many times as necessary to make eight episodes of our program and to share the story both of Sandy’s devastation and the recovery that is now underway. Instead of our usual format – helping to renovate a single house – we will chronicle the rebuilding of three homes. We’ll serve more as correspondents than contractors and try to answer the important questions: How and where should people along the coast rebuild? And should they rebuild at all?
Along the way we’ll meet the three homeowners and their families, we’ll hear about how Sandy affected their lives and we’ll learn about the many challenges they face as they try to rebuild. It will be a story about loss and devastation, yes. But it will also be a story about perseverance and ingenuity. These people will rebuild; there’s no stopping them. And we’re proud to be telling their stories. So for me it’s another trip back to Jersey, this time with a whole new story to tell.