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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Family welcomes baby boy after losing home

  • After losing almost everything, Brittany Carper and her husband James Carper received a welcome distraction in the form of a baby boy.
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  • After losing almost everything, Brittany Carper and her husband James Carper received a welcome distraction in the form of a baby boy.
     
    The family’s home was destroyed in the May 19 tornado that tore through Bethel Acres. Their home was declared unlivable only days after someone broke into their house and stole various items.
     
    “They busted my door down,” Brittany said.
     
    The thief stole items including jewelry, an iPad, and money the family had received at a baby shower. Then, Sunday, the family traveled to Brittany’s uncle’s home to wait out what was to be a tornado in the cellar.
     
    “They were talking tornados, and we don’t mess around since James lost his home in a tornado,” several years ago, Brittany said.
     
    The family brought their daughters, Jailyn, 6, and Katelyn, 7, with them to their uncle’s cellar, where they listened to the weather through an iPhone app.
     
    “It was play-by-play,” Brittany said. “We knew it had hit Bethel, we just didn’t know how severe.”
     
    Thinking of others first, Brittany began contacting girls on the softball team she coaches, but her phone was having trouble connecting, she said. Then, as they grew closer to their home, they began realizing the severity of the storm.
     
    Trees lined the roads, along with overturned four-wheelers. Power lines were down, leaving much in darkness. People were running wildly everywhere as the family tried to navigate through to their home.
     
    “I knew then, that it wasn’t going to be there,” James said.
     
    Some of the walls were standing, but glass and insulation got into most of their clothes, including a new baby stroller and car seat. Their new truck, which had been left under a newly completed awning, sat totaled underneath five trees.
     
    Their outbuildings were completed destroyed, although a few electronics were salvaged from the wreckage of their home, along with Pillow Pets for their daughters. Most of their other toys and clothes were ruined from insulation and glass.
     
    The shock of everything nearly put Brittany into labor.
     
    “I started having contractions,” she said. “[James] was my encouragement when I started hyperventilating.”
     
    She was taken to the hospital where they told her she was dehydrated and, to no one’s surprise, overly stressed. She was released and went to her sister’s home in Brooksville, while her husband and other family members went to begin clean up of what was left of their home.
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    “We wanted to try to start picking up the pieces,” James said.
     
    Six-year-old Jailyn was still able to attend her kindergarten graduation Wednesday before Brittany returned to the hospital to have James, Jr. who has born 9 lbs. 2 oz. at 19 inches long.
     
    To the see the family of five sitting in their hospital room, one wouldn’t think they had no home to return to. Gifts are piled halfway up one wall, while Jailyn colors at the foot of her mother’s bed and Katelyn talks to her father. Brittany holds a calm baby James, and laughs at the jokes Jailyn tells her.
     
    In another corner, still in the box, sits a new stroller and cars seat donated to replace the one ruined in the storm.
     
    Brittany manages to find humor in her situation.
     
    “We had plans to do some cleaning – nesting – Monday and Tuesday. But it didn’t quite happen that way,” she said with a laugh.
     
    The family, in what could be a devastating hour, is happy.
     
    “We’re kind of going day-by-day,” James said.
     
    They understand their situation, but know how much worse it could have been.
     
    “All that to say – we’re going to be fine,” Brittany said. “My heart goes out to those in Moore. I could be burying a child, instead of having one.”
     
    In more ways than one, baby James has been a miracle for his family.
     
    “He helped out,” James said. “He filled a void.”
     
    “It’s hard to get that smile off of your face,” Brittany said in agreement. “As bad as it may seem, we still consider ourselves blessed.”
     
    After Brittany’s release from the hospital, the family plans to stay at Brittany’s sister’s house, for at least a little while.
     
    “That was never part of the plan, not having a place to go home to,” James said.
     
    The family has registered with FEMA, and is waiting to hear back from their insurance. Brittany said she isn’t sure if they will rent a home until their insurance comes through, or what they will do. Though she added she isn’t worried, they have everything they need, she said.
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    “We’ve been getting help from people we don’t even know,” Brittany said.
     
    Finley and Cook, Brittany’s employer has been helping, along with the Carter family, James said.
     
    “We send our thanks to everyone,” James said.
     
    “Everyone has just pitched in and helped,” Katelyn said. “If they were all here, I would say thank you.”
     
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