George Oliphant specializes in being a real life guardian angel to people. On his NBC home makeover show, “George to the Rescue,” which airs Saturdays at 10 a.m. on WNBC / Channel 4, he aims to “make a difference in the lives of deserving people.”
On his upcoming May 4 episode, Oliphant heads to Babylon, where he lends a helping hand to the Hultses (above), who are trying to put their lives back together after their home was rocked by superstorm Sandy last fall.
When Sandy began, Michelle Hults, 45, had a gut feeling that she and her 2 year-old son, Hunter, should evacuate their home immediately. Hours after they left, four feet of water filled the house destroying the entire first floor.
With her husband, U.S. Army Major Michael Hults, 40, doing a tour of duty in Afghanistan and her car in the shop, Michelle had a friend from Holbrook put her up in their basement. She would not be able to live in her home for the next four months.
After 11 months of service, Michael was coming home and Michelle wanted to have the house restored for his return but she was unable to finish.
“He didn’t have a home to come home to, which crushed me,” says Michelle. “It was impossible to have it completed in time.”
Being a proactive military man and professional engineer, Michael took action. “There wasn’t much time to decompress,” he says. “I realized what was going on and went right into working on the house.”
Without flood insurance, the family received $31,000 in FEMA aid and put in another $10,000 to repair the damages but that wasn’t enough.
“When we got to the kitchen, we just ran out of money,” says Michael’s mother, Patricia Hults, 62, owner of the home. “That’s when I emailed ‘George to the Rescue’ and told them about our situation.”
Oliphant chose the family as his next project after hearing their story. “Because Michael has done so much for our country, we figured this would be a great guy to do something for,” he says.
The goal was to repair the Hults’ kitchen and family room, which was in shambles. They were using a cooler to refrigerate their food, cooking with an old microwave and a small toaster oven while eating on a card table.
Oliphant called up his contractor buddy Stephen Fanuka of Manhasset from DIY’s “Million Dollar Contractor” to help steer the project.
“I’m going to give back what Sandy took away,” says Fanuka. “Not only are we going to bring them back into their kitchen, we are going to give them a room where the family can be together.”
With Oliphant and Fanuka joining forces, they brought in 50 workers from various Long Island trade companies who donated their time and materials to give the Hults family a new kitchen loaded with new appliances, cabinets and countertops and new family room complete with an entertainment center, new furniture, a 50-inch flat-screen TV and a Blu-Ray player.
The family vacated the house for two weeks while the work was being done and will return on April 9 for the unveiling.
“I guarantee we are going to have one happy family,” says Fanuka, who will feature the Hults family on his show in the fall during its third season. “The object is to get everything back to normal.”