Local volunteers made a dream a reality for an 88-year old veteran.
Roosevelt Royals said roofing contractors stole thousands from him without completing a roof job.
Hurricanes Irma and Matthew made a bad roof job worse.
Royals spent most of June with his family in Orlando.
He didn't know an entire home renovation would be taking place.
Flanked by family members and volunteers Royals stepped into his newly renovated home Saturday.
88-y.o. vet Roosevelt Royals tells @ActionNewsJax contractors took thousands and vanished. Hurricane Irma made a bad roof job worse, his home fell apart.@NEFBAJax spent about $60K to right those wrongs, and kept the scale of the project a secret to Royals -- until Saturday. pic.twitter.com/SzRyfH6ze2— Ryan Nelson (@RyanANJax) July 12, 2018
"I can’t put it into words," said Royals. "I was so astonished when I walked in, I really wanted to cry."
We first met Royals in early June. We conducted our interview on his front porch. It was the only place in the home where he felt cool.
“I’ll be here until the Lord comes,” he told us in June.
Royals said his home fell into disrepair because of shoddy work on his roof.
The Northeast Florida Builders Association heard about his story and volunteered to fix the roof at no cost.
The job cost about $6,000.
The builders association invested about 10 times that amount to renovate the inside and kept it a secret from Royals.
“They weren’t supposed to do nothing in here and I went inside there and looked -- everything in there was new,” said Royals.
They fixed water-damaged ceilings and floors and leaky pipes, improved the air conditioning, painted the walls, brought in furniture, did some landscaping and help declutter the home.
Royal is asking himself if he's dreaming.
''There’s got to be something wrong here somewhere and I get up and look and I say, 'No it’s real,'" said Royals.
NEFBA wanted to help a victim of contractor fraud rebuild.
Its charity Builders Care, is out to right the wrongs of other contractors.
“He was a victim of contractor fraud, and to be able to step (in) and heal that wound, if you will, and more than that to help a veteran,” said NEFBA executive officer Bill Garrison.
The agency hopes to assist more victims of contractor fraud.
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