Viewers join former Miss America to help local couple living in - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Viewers join former Miss America to help local couple living in shed

Betty White and Sam Virga gave WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter Sam Virga a tour of their uninhabitable home in Oct. 2015. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Betty White and Sam Virga gave WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter Sam Virga a tour of their uninhabitable home in Oct. 2015. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Sam Virga and Betty White (Source: WAVE 3 News) Sam Virga and Betty White (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The roof of the Virgas' home (Source: WAVE 3 News) The roof of the Virgas' home (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There is good news for a local couple in desperate need of some.

One day after WAVE 3 News showed how their home-repair nightmare left them living in a shed, people from across WAVE Country have come forward to offer help. And now, the wheels are in motion to get the couple back into the house that was destroyed more than a year ago.

When WAVE 3 News posted the story to Facebook about the conditions Sam Virga and his girlfriend Betty White were living in, hundreds of people stepped up to offer time, money and materials to get them back in their home, including one very familiar face.

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"I was very disheartened that he had been living in this condition," former Miss America Heather French Henry said.

French Henry has spent years working to help veterans, which is how she ended up inside what's left of Virga's house.

"So as soon as I saw your post and your story, the very next morning we contacted our friends at Habitat for Humanity," French Henry said.

Her team from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs spent Thursday morning taking pictures, inside and out. The goal was to figure out whether it makes more sense for Habitat to repair the home, or simply tear it down and build a new one.

"How long do we think it's going to take to make that determination?" she asked the group touring the home with her.

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The answer to that question remains unclear, but they are working to fast-track the process, knowing Virga and White have suffered long enough.

"When we gave (a contractor) that $15,000, he shouldn't have walked away from this and left us like this," White said. "That's not right."

It's been more than a year since the couple paid Jacob Blanton, owner of a company called Skyshield Restoration, $15,000 in insurance money to do emergency flood repairs to their Okolona home. The company did those repairs, but walked out on the job when Skyshield couldn't get insurance to pay what they were asking to lift and restore the home.

That's how Virga and White ended up sleeping in a 14-by-14-foot shed. 

"There's a porta-potty right there," Virga said, pointing outside the front door of the home when the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter investigated their living conditions just before Thanksgiving. 

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"You guys shouldn't have to live this way," WAVE 3 News told the couple.

"Tell me about it," White answered.

Soon, they won't have to. Habitat, which has a new focus on veterans housing, is getting as much funding approved as it can for the Virgas. They will fill in any gaps with all those offers from WAVE 3 News viewers, which range from  HVAC and plumbing to paint and landscaping.

"Now that we are getting the help, oh it means the world," White said. "I mean there is some decent people out there. There really is."

And now a Christmas that once looked bleak has a light at the end of the tunnel.

"What that means to me is that that man up there was listening and helping," Virga said, pointing to the sky. "And it means joy to the world."

The team from Veterans Affairs also is registering Virga for VA health care benefits and food donation programs. And WAVE 3 News viewer John Price plans to loan the couple his camper so they have a warm place to sleep while their home is being built.

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