Helping Hands: Roofing community teams up to repair Fort Lauderdale family’s damaged roof

(WSVN) - A Fort Lauderdale family is sleeping soundly tonight after years of struggling. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek has the exclusive story of how helping hands changed their lives.

When Hurricane Irma hit South Florida in September 2017, the Walters family knew their roof was in trouble.

Annette Walters, homeowner: “As it rained, it just got heavier and heavier, and we knew soon it was just going to collapse.”

Clayton Walters, homeowner: “It was very bad, real bad. It started caving in.”

The roof collapsed in the bedroom. Then, mold started growing, making the family sick.

Annette Walters: “I stayed in the hospital constantly, and I knew it was because of the mold. All four of us move to the den. We sleep in the den, mattress in the den. That’s where we had to stay because everything had just fallen apart.”

With no insurance, there wasn’t any money for a new roof, but one day, after almost three years of misery, neighbors saw a woman fixing a roof nearby. They reached out to her and discovered a group called National Women in Roofing.

MaryBeth Reed, National Women in Roofing: “We reached out to the construction and roofing community and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this family seriously in need. What can we do to help them?’ And really, it was the power of all these women. We have well over 120 members here in South Florida and nearly 2,000 throughout the country.”

With their urging, it didn’t take long for local businesses to get involved.

Sandy Giel, National Women in Roofing: “We literally had probably 10 people within the first three hours, and it’s just snowballed from there. It’s just an amazing, amazing thing.”

In all, 37 South Florida companies stepped up offering labor, materials or donations for an estimated $45,000.

Colin Kepley, Skilcon Roofing and Waterproofing: “It’s a nice thing to be able to help out somebody that’s in need and just bringing the communities together in Fort Lauderdale. We’re a hard-hit area with COVID-19, and it’s great to see everybody collaborating to do this.”

When they started the project, volunteers were shocked at the condition of the house.

Worker: “The wood, you can see, has already been damaged. It has mold, and the water damage has come in. The family has not been able to sleep here because of this mold.”

Soon, it was out with the old roof, stripping it off and fixing the carpentry, trusses and putting on a new flat roof and shingles.

Woman volunteer: “Are you going to flash pretty much the perimeter area?”

Volunteer: “Yes.”

Inside, the mold is being removed, and new drywall for the ceiling is going up.

Clay Thomas, Advanced Roofing: “The fact that we can come in and not only stop the problem but improve that immediate environment, I think that’s huge.”

For the volunteers, it was a labor of love.

Marlene Contreras, National Women in Roofing: “This is what National Women in Roofing is all about!”

For the Walters family, it’s a gift they’ll never forget.

Annette Walters: “If they hadn’t came into my life, my family and I would literally be homeless. They are amazing. They are my angels.”

The roofing industry coming together, their many helping hands making a difference for a family in need.

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