For a man who had his entire world turned upside down, construction on his new home signals a fresh start. "I feel like a million dollar man!" Raul Vera said. Just two months ago, the World War II veteran says he nearly gave up on life. Fire from a lightning strike destroyed his home in Mercedes. His 78-year-old wife Martina died from injuries she sustained in the blaze. "I wish my wife was here so she could enjoy what I'm doing... what this company is doing for us," Raul said. JW Turner Construction is building Raul a new home. When complete in about 10 to 15 days, it'll have more than a thousand square feet. The building will also meet all ADA requirements and be able to withstand 110 mile per hour winds, according to
Mike Moralez, general manager for JW Turner Construction in the Rio Grande Valley. "People keep telling us thanks for what we're doing and I tell him thanks and all the vets that come out," Mike said. The new home sits on the same property where Raul lived with his late wife for most of their lives along Vermont Street. Their dogs in the backyard have kept Raul returning each day since the fire. "If it wasn't for my little dogs, I'd be gone already to a nursing home or some place because I didn't have nothing to here in this world but her," he explained. Raul's love for his wife is unmatched, according to JW Turner Construction. That's why the company buried a special keepsake in the foundation of Raul's new home. It's his wife's rosary. They've had it for more than 60 years. It's one of the only remaining keepsakes from Raul's wife. A priest blessed it just before the concrete foundation buried it permanently under the porch area of the home on Monday morning. "It was touching," Mike said. "Words couldn't put, couldn't explain... It was very touching to have that moment there and have a part be with this house for here on out." For the first time in a long time, Raul is crying tears of joy. "I can't find any words to thank these people and the owner of this company to do for somebody that needs help," he said.
JW Turner Construction is getting help from a number of other companies. They're all hoping the public can help with what Raul will still need once the home is complete next month. Raul will need furniture, a new fence and groceries just name a few. If anyone wants to make a monetary donation, just head to a Texas National Bank under the account name Raul Vera.