TODAY | December 21, 2012
>>> still displaced and will not be home for the holidays .
>> so thursday members of our "today" family decided to join the ranks to lend a hand to give back to a family that has given so much to others.
>> the water is rushing down the street like a river.
>> reporter: carlos rodriguez made sure his wife and son were safely evacuate friday their home in union beach , new jersey.
>> waves coming down the street, literally waves. and we jump out. i get her, get jonathan . give her the keys, get the dogs, get in the car and go. i just said don't turn back. don't look back.
>> reporter: then he went to work. as an ems volunteer, he headed toward the storm as everyone else ran away. when daylight hit, he came home to complete destruction, all of his family's possessions swept away by over five feet of water.
>> all i did was cry for days. and i was in shock. i couldn't imagine because you never anticipate something like that.
>> reporter: the rodriguez family is not alone. over 50,000 businesses and homes across new jersey and new york were destroyed by the super storm . but today habitat for humanity is here to help start rebuilding.
>> people don't realize the devastation, the level of need.
>> reporter: what does habitat for humanity coming in here mean for you?
>> i'm not used to this. i'm used to being -- for 25 years i've been volunteering. this is wonderful. amazing. this is jonathan . he got the brunt of it. all his toys, the water was dirty. we couldn't keep it. top drawer, cabinet had water in it.
>> reporter: with clearly a lot of work to be done, we decided to call for backup.
>> get in here. willie and the "today" team helped to tear off storm-damaged siding and replace water-damaged floors. right down the street there was even more work to be done at carlos' home away from home, ems headquarters.
>> this was under water?
>> this was under water.
>> hey, everybody.
>> the idea is to put the paint on the wall.
>> not bad, right?
>> reporter: wow, nice job, guy.
>> it's amazing how much you can get done with an army of help.
>> that's right.
>> making pretty good time here.
>> reporter: the rodriguez family is one step closer to calling this house their home again. it could end up being a merry christmas after all?
>> yes. it is christmas right now. this is santa claus early, a week early.
>> absolutely. it's the only gift we wanted.
>> jonathan , i know you lost a lot of your toys and it's going to be a little bit of a different christmas and difficult christmas for you. we wanted to at least start to help you rebuild your collection with things we heard you like.
>> it will be a while before you're actually in the house but we have something for your front door.
>> thank you.
>> to symbolize the season.
>> perfect. thank you so much.
>> put it up right now.
>> there you go.
>> there we go.
>> from our "today" family to yours.
>> thank you. thank you.
>> this is really fitting in with what ann curry has been talking about, #26ask. you can easily fit something like that in.
>> how much work there still is to be done. it's been a couple of months. it goes off the radar a little bit. that's one house in one town. there are thousands more like it. they need help. whatever people can do to chip in.
>> and give him those gifts, too.
>> santa moment. big smiles.
>> i'll do that job.
>> good kid, jonathan .
>> great job.