NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - "I like it. I like it"
Those were the first words out of Debra Purnell's mouth when she walked into her new home Thursday night.
Her friends and community members surprised her with a fully furnished mobile home. Purnell lost her mobile home to fire January 4. She lost everything. Five of her six cats also perished in the fire.
"I am overwhelmed," said Purnell while running her hands through her hair.
Purnell had just paid off her mortgage when her New Port Richey home went up in flames. Without homeowner's insurance, Purnell turned to ABC Action News for help.
Within days of showing you her misfortune, donations began pouring in. She received everything from new furniture, to clothing and even money. Only she had nowhere to put her new things.
The community stepped up. They learned a vacant mobile home was nearby and decided to remodel it and hand the keys over to Purnell. Her friends, many over the age of 60, worked in secret to get the place up to snuff.
They were even working cutting and painting cabinets just minutes before Thursday night's big reveal.
"We tried to keep it a secret, but she was looking around," said Linda, Purnell's friend.
All Purnell's friend would tell her is that her new home was somewhere in their mobile home park. On January 18, they gave ABC Action News a sneak peek of the inside. Everything from the drapes down to the carpeting were donated.
"Thank you, thank you," Purnell kept repeating after the reveal.
But, an even bigger surprise was coming.
"I am happy to tell you own this house," Linda told her friend. All the money donated to Purnell paid off the new mobile home's mortgage.
In honor of Purnell's pets who died in the fire, a sign was painted near Purnell's new front door that says, "One cat away from crazy."
Purnell plans to fully move into her new home this week. On Friday, she is heading to the shelter to pick up her sole surviving cat, Taboo.
"This is a new beginning for us," Purnell said.