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Family loses roof to windstorm, helpful community rallies

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RAVALLI — A quiet evening at home for a Mission Valley family was interrupted by gusting winds that ripped the roof off of their mobile home last week. 

Dawn and John McNutt were home with their four children watching television when a loud noise shook the home.

“Imagine you’re in the movie the Wizard of Oz – that’s what it felt like. It was pretty intense,” Dawn McNutt said. John, who thought a tree had fallen on the house, went outside to survey the damage. He found instead that the wind had ripped the back portion of the roof entirely off of their home and folded the rest of the roof, one side on top of the other.

Wind gusts of up to 68 miles per hour were recorded in Missoula at the same time the McNutt’s roof was blown off. The powerful gusts sent a 4x4 piece of lumber from the McNutt’s roof flew through the siding of their neighbor’s home, coming to rest in their living room.

The McNutt family lives on a modest income as Dawn and her youngest daughter are disabled and neither Dawn or John are employed.

“We really don’t have the money to fix it,” Dawn said as she looked at a pile of roofing debris in her yard. With increasingly cold weather and a holiday season on the horizon, “It’s just bad that it had to happen at this time of year,” she added.

A friend of the family, Caroline Roesch, set up a GoFundMe page to help the McNutts raise money to repair their roof. 

When a community member tagged Sika Ulutoa in a Facebook post announcing the family’s need, he organized a work crew.

Ulutoa, Nani Moenoa and Earl Shongo arrived Thursday afternoon as Dawn spoke to Valley Journal staff. Ulutoa, who serves as pastor of Lighthouse Christian Fellowship in Ronan and founded a missionary outreach group called Tribal Waves, said they “had to lend a hand.”

Having helped with a similar roof repair project a couple weeks ago, he and his team felt called to help and wanted to do so before forecasted rain and snow arrived.

With ladders and tools the three set to work to repair the roof as best they could, working until darkness stopped them. They were back the next day to ensure the tarps they put on were well secured and to haul away roofing debris from the McNutt yard. John says he’s relieved and grateful the roof is now tarped and believes the temporary fix should last until spring. 

“It’s definitely a weight off,” John said. “I can’t thank them enough for their help and everything. Thank God for them.”

Those interested in donating to the family’s roof repair fundraiser can do so at Search for: Local Family Loses Roof in Wind Storm.

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