The Ruckers’ new next-door neighbors
Story and photo by
Judy A. Maxwell
Anaiah Rucker and her family are in their new house, but some crew members from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” are still in the neighborhood.
Andrew Baldridge and other employees of Lock and Key Productions of Los Angeles, Calif., are marking their fifth week in Madison, having arrived three weeks before “Extreme Makeover” designers and local volunteers began to build the house on Bell Circle for Anaiah, her mother Andrea Taylor and two younger sisters.
The advance team placed flyers on neighbors’ doors and met with some residents to prepare them for the event, which in all practicality consumes an entire two- to three-block area. Front yards were fenced off, big white canopy tents were erected in several backyards, streets were barricaded with security teams, portable toilets were set up as cars and trucks parked up and down the street, construction equipment tracked mud on the roads, and bright lights illuminated the neighborhood as volunteer builders and subcontractors worked around the clock to construct the 2,500-square-foot home in less than a week.
Residents were given the option of staying in local hotels until the build was complete. While some took Lock and Key Productions’ offer, others either stayed behind or returned home in mid-week.
“It’s amazing, what they’re doing,” said 73-year-old Mary Sauls as she watered her garden at 1159 Bell Circle. Sauls said she welcomed the activity in the typically quiet neighborhood. “I sit on my front porch early in the morning and watch. The police ride around all day. I went over and had supper last night, Waffle House was catering and I had grits and eggs.” Numerous restaurants volunteered to feed the crew and volunteers, and many of the neighbors were also invited to eat for free.
Vickie Malik’s house is next door to the Rucker home and the build is the main view from her bedroom window. Malik, 56, stayed in a hotel the first couple of nights, but decided she did not want to be away from the action and returned home that Tuesday.
To escape the bright lights at night (“it looks just like daylight outside”), Malik put blankets over her windows and slept on her living room sofa, which is at the opposite end of the house.
Malik and other residents said the “Extreme Makeover” crew members were very helpful and polite. They frequently checked with the residents to minimize the impact of the disruption.
“It’s been like mass confusion the past few days,” said Malik from her front yard. “I’ve enjoyed watching it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Printed in the July 21, 2011 edition