Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Home ruined, they muster a laugh


A tornado hurled two trees into their living room last night, capsized their 25-foot boat and caused at least $250,000 damage to their three-story house. But the Brawner family in Kent County is laughing.

"We're in so much shock, there was so much devastation, there's nothing else to do right now but laugh -- although it's nervous laughter," said Jamie Brawner, 17. "We got to be thankful nobody was hurt. There were seven people and three dogs, and they all got out alive."

Added Jamie's father, 62-year-old William Brawner: "I was in the Korean War and I've seen megaton bombs hit and it's nothing like this.

One tree went right through the roof and missed me by five feet."

The Brawner house, at 12445 Cooper's Lane in Worton Creek, doesn't look much like it used to. Oak trees around the house, some 200 years old, were uprooted, leaving a line of 8- and 9-foot holes where the tornado touched down about 9 p.m.

"These were huge trees that had been there forever, and it just took them out in less than a second," Jamie said.

Chief James Price of the Betterton Volunteer Fire Department said the twister caused heavy damage to the Brawners' home and at least two others on Cooper's Lane. The waterfront area was devastated, he said. Amazingly, no one had injuries more serious than a bruise or two.

"It put a pickup truck up in a tree and blew some roofs off. I wouldn't have wanted to have been down there," Chief Price said.

Mr. Brawner, who owns a Washington real estate company, said the family was having a relaxing evening at home after celebrating his wife's birthday yesterday when they heard on television that a tornado was coming.

Jamie ran outside and within moments "could hear the whirl of the tornado."

The tornado blew off part of the roof and caved in the walls of an upstairs bedroom. Their 25-foot Seahawk motorboat, moored at a dock on Stillpond Creek, was capsized and the dock flattened. The family Audi was crushed by a tree.

"We're in shock, we're in absolute shock," Jamie kept saying.

Mr. Brawner said he hopes that insurance will cover the damage and that in the meantime, the family is "holing up in the basement."

"This is without a doubt the most incredible experience I have ever had," Mr. Brawner said.

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