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PBS, composite deck maker help Superstorm Sandy victim rebuild

By: Catherine Kavanaugh

October 29, 2013

When a foot of water filled his 1950s colonial house on a canal in Pleasant Point, N.J., Carlos Santos resorted to his plan of escape from Superstorm Sandy.

Santos untied a kayak that he hung on the banister of the foyer stairway and paddled into the dark aftermath of a six-foot storm surge that flooded almost 2,000 homes in the tourist town with one of the legendary boardwalks.

Santos, his wife and their three children were counted among the 27,000 households displaced in New Jersey and New York on Oct. 29, 2012.

One year later, the couple is getting help to rebuild – 10-feet higher than before -- from some of the most trusted home improvement experts of the PBS series “This Old House” (TOH) as well as the manufacturers of products they are highlighting as best practices for coastal construction.

Watch for MoistureShield composite decking in the Nov. 14 episode, said Brent Gwatney, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the line of wood decks fully encapsulated in water-resistant polyethylene.

MoistureShield donated the materials to replace the wood deck the storm washed away from the Santos family’s back yard.

“I watched the water creep over the grass, the curb and lift a deck that used to be here,” Santos said in a TOH interview posted online to promote a series of episodes called Jersey Shore Rebuilds.

Santos estimates the water rose above the canal wall at a rate of a foot an hour, first filling his yard and then his attached garage. About 11 p.m., the water made its way up a couple steps into the house. Floors, walls, insulation, kitchen appliances, kitchen cupboards, electrical wiring, plumbing and more were rendered rubbish by the salty sea.

TOH is showing viewers how the region is struggling to rebuild smarter and stronger by raising houses and using state-of-the-art pile driving, breakaway walls and the latest products, including decking from the MoistureShield Vantage Collection.

“We were very excited to be able to help this family that lost so much to Sandy,” Gwatney said in a statement. “As someone who has had a personal experience with devastating hurricanes, I know how incredible it can feel to have a helping hand to get your life back on track after such a traumatic event.”

The walnut colored deck donated to the Santos family is made from a mix of wood fiber and recycled plastic in a patented process. Gwatney said it is an ideal choice for regions with a lot of precipitation and humidity and it should last decades longer than traditional wood decking.

Dana Clark, the owner of Ned Sickels Overhead Doors, also helped the Santos family, installing garage doors with a polyurethane insulated steel core from the Clopay’s Canyon Ridge Collection Limited Edition Series.

Plastics are playing a big part of the rebuilding of the Jersey Shore and some are getting plugged in the 34th season of TOH, which began Oct. 3.

“I was born and raised in New Jersey,” host Kevin O’Connor said in a statement. “So this hits home for me. The locals can’t imagine New Jersey without a vibrant Shore, so it’s not a matter of ‘if’ they will be rebuild, but ‘how.’ We hope to highlight best practices that will resonate in coastal communities everywhere.”