McNutt family seeks support after remaining roof collapses
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By Taylor Davison / Valley Journal
RAVALI — The McNutt family has had a difficult year, Dawn McNutt shared, as what remained of their roof came crashing to the ground earlier this month.
The family first lost part of their roof two years ago during high winds. While their church and the community gathered funds to help them, Dawn said the unfortunate reality is that all that money was taken when her husband John left the family.
Dawn shared that John was arrested in 2020 for attacking one of their daughters. Upon his release from jail in March of 2022, he drained the family’s savings, turned off their power, phones, food stamps, everything, and disappeared. Dawn was able to finalize her divorce from John earlier this month thanks to help from attorneys at Safe Harbor, but as they have yet to locate John, she doesn’t anticipate receiving child support.
“He controlled all the money,” Dawn explained. “The Mormon church is trying to help me as best they can, everybody is, but I’m sitting here in tears because what person just takes off like (John) did? Just takes the money and runs?”
Regarding their roof, McNutt said, “I thought we could survive until summer … I didn’t know it was that bad … but when this other part of the roof came down, (I knew) we can’t live here anymore.”
The portion of the roof that remained from the first incident two years ago collapsed early in the morning this month and barricaded the front door. Dawn said members of her church and the community came over to help pull off the roof pieces, but debris is still in her front yard. Those helping her commented the house ought to be condemned, as Dawn said they also found evidence of black mold she’d been unaware of.
Another stressor hit the McNutt family when it became clear that daughter Kristina has developed a growth in her throat. The family won’t know if it’s cancerous until after Kristina undergoes surgery in Ronan next month and the growth is biopsied.
The McNutt family lives on a modest income as Dawn and her youngest daughter are disabled and receive supplemental security income (SSI). Another of her daughters contributes half of what she makes from her job at a local café to the family income, but Dawn explained that after bills they’re still lucky if they have a couple hundred dollars for her and her children each month.
The family is getting by right now with help from Safe Harbor, the support of their church and friends, and the Helping Hands organization that’s assisting with this month’s electric bill. With only tarps for a roof right now, Dawn says they’re essentially living in a tent. “I can’t live in a tent with my kids,” she said. “My kids are my life, (and) they’re in tears. We’ve been through hell and back the last year … I can’t take any more.”
Anyone who knows of a housing option for the family, or those who wish to help in any way, can reach out to the McNutts through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on North Main Street in St. Ignatius.