Community rallies to restore home of veteran living inside a tent

Posted at 7:00 PM, Jan 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-23 19:00:56-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Vietnam veteran says he is overwhelmed after the outpouring of support he has received from community members and businesses.

“It’s taken a huge weight off of my shoulders,” said 73-year-old Walter Flanagan.

CBS 6 Problem Solvers told the story of Flanagan who was sleeping in a tent outside his Henrico home after a house fire.

“I was staying in a tent in my back yard. Everyone was in a panic about that, but I made it through the snow storm,” said Flanagan.

After the fire, he was overwhelmed with the task of getting the house back in living condition, especially with the massive accumulation of items his dad collected over the years.

Flanagan had been living in the home caring for his father before he passed away. Once the fire damaged the kitchen and the home was unlivable, he began sleeping in a tent that he pitched outside on the property.

But some caring hearts reached out to him. The Henrico County building inspection team got some churches involved to get Flanagan in a hotel for a short stint.

A local man also stepped in to pay for another 10 days.

Then local business ServPro stepped into the clear the fire damage and other items from the home.

Drew Bahen of ServePro says their goal is to make Flanagan’s home new again.

“Make it like it never even happened,” said Bahen. “That he could walk in here and never even know there was any kind of issue or fire.”

But more work was needed.

After a plea from Bahen, more community members stepped up to help.

“I think we already have a roofer lined up and we have electricians. The next step is getting the electrical service back to the house,” said John Butler, a supervisor with the building inspections department. “Once that’s done, we can have power in the home and get the other people working in there and get the kitchen rebuilt.”

The proud vet couldn’t be more relieved and uplifted because of the kindness of strangers.

“I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the people who reached out. I really am,” said Flanagan.

In just a few days, Flanagan will see work begin on his home.

That work will begin with United Roofing and Construction who will tackle the roof project.

If you are interested in donating or pitching in to help Mr. Flanagan get his home repaired, contact John Butler with Henrico County’s building inspections team at 804-501-7454.

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