One year after tornado

Published 4:30 pm Friday, April 13, 2012

Michael and Cathy Brown stand in front of their new home on Trump Town Road. An April 16, 2011, tornado destroyed their 110-year-old farmhouse. DALE LIESCH/TIDEWATER NEWS

WALTERS—Coach is happy to be home.

The black Labrador retriever owned by Michael and Cathy Brown can once again roam the family’s Trump Town Road property, where one year ago this Monday, a tornado destroyed their home.

The Browns this weekend will move in to a new home on the same site where an EF-2 tornado destroyed their 110-year-old farmhouse on April 16, 2011.

No one was injured from the evening tornado, which did $1.5 million damage after traveling 20 miles through Isle of Wight County, said Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Andrea Clontz. The tornado destroyed three structures, did major damage to eight and minor damage to another eight.

The Browns, who rented a home in Smithfield during the interim, didn’t begin rebuilding until September.

“It’s not like we were sitting around the house with house plans,” Michael Brown said. “In July we settled on house plans.”

The Browns also lost a cinder block garage and three vehicles inside, including a Ford Expedition and two Mustangs. The garage has been replaced.

The family didn’t lose too many personal items, but rain damage was significant.

“The (Farm Bureau) insurance company has been great with everything,” Michael Brown said. “It’s gone really well.”

Mark Briggs also of Trump Town Road said repairs to his home were recently. The work included new sheetrock, windows and ceilings. Briggs also lost a horse.

Brigg’s mother-in-law Irma Morrill, who lives next door, lost her home after the tornado knocked it off its foundation. Morrill stayed in Windsor for seven months while a new home was built.

Morrill was on the phone when she saw the storm carry a tree away and a bedroom door fly down the hallway. She hid in a hallway bathroom until the tornado passed.

Morrill and her golden retriever, Mocha, still struggle with the storm’s aftermath.

“Anytime there’s thunder she hides,” Morrill said. “Anytime I see tornado warnings now, I get nervous.”

Morrill lost her wedding and engagement rings from her late husband, Jack Morrill.

Windsor resident Louise Taylor’s home on Walters Highway also was heavily damaged. While it appears the home has been repaired, she did not want speak to The Tidewater News.

“I feel like we’re getting our lives back,” Cathy Brown said.