The Enrights lost half their home last October when superstorm Sandy hit the West End of Long Beach. On Friday, their luck turned around when HGTV's crews for the new show "Spontaneous Construction" arrived at their Michigan Street house to announce that it had been chosen for a makeover.
"I'm shocked, completely shocked," said John Enright, 52, a manager at Bed, Bath & Beyond in Oceanside, as he, his wife Lori and six children, ages 12 to 23, were greeted by more than 100 people outside their six-bedroom expanded beach bungalow. "I can't believe what everybody is doing for us."
The cable TV network show, which is hosted by Atlantic Beach native and actor Ricky Paull Goldin of "All My Children" fame, greeted the family with a flash mob of 50 volunteers from all over Long Island who gathered through social media. Sherri Shepherd of ABC's "The View" led a dance troupe in front of the house to Ace Frehley's "New York Groove."
Lori's high school friend Wendy Etrog of Atlantic Beach, 51, urged her to make a video about what happened to the family during the storm and it was submitted to Goldin.
"The Enright family's video hit every note in our hearts," said Danny Tepper, director of original programming and development for HGTV. "We felt this is a family that deserves our help."
The volunteers will finish the house in about a week while the Enrights stay in a hotel. The show, as well as a segment about the makeover on "The View," is set to air next month.
The Enrights and their two dogs and ferret have been living on the top floor of their three-story home since Sandy hit. The other two floors were destroyed in the storm. Water filled their 8-foot basement and then came up through the floor.
The family was without water for two weeks, lost electricity for almost a month and had no heat or hot water until Dec. 30. They used a kerosene heater and Sterno to keep warm.
"It was brutal," said Lori, 51. "But it made us even closer."
The upstairs floor has four bedrooms and one bathroom. The parents' bedroom was used as a living room/dining room space, and the bathroom became a makeshift kitchen with a microwave, toaster oven and hot plate. Because Lori works at a local pizzeria, she has been bringing home leftovers.
Not only were they living on top of each other, but they had all their belongings stored upstairs as well.
"It was extremely hard to move around and keep things neat," said fifth child Frank Enright, 14. "We made it work."
Overwhelmed by the act of kindness and the attention her family was getting, Lori said, "We could never do something like this in a million years." She said the family has received some Federal Emergency Management Agency funding and insurance money, but not much.
As friends, family members and volunteers cheered Friday, Lori shouted, "You are all invited for dinner when my kitchen comes back. I mean it!"