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October 12, 2011
America's worst bedroom belongs to hurricane-hit veteran

Sorry, Barbara; your messy bedroom was no match for a hurricane.

In the search for America's worst nightmare bedroom, Joe Chenelly won the $5,000 grand prize after a photo of his suburban Washington, D.C., home - wiped out by Hurricane Irene - drew thousands of on-line votes.

Chenelly's bedroom, destroyed by a large tree that hit the house, drew 27 percent of the final vote, according to contest sponsor Angie's List, the consumer review service. Angie's List made the announcement on its Facebook page Tuesday.

Sacramento's Barbara Josenberger, one of the 25 finalists, was among the distant also-rans.

Chenelly - along with his wife, Dawn, and five children - will probably use their prize to fix up a new home, he said. Their Lusby, Md., house was heavily damaged in the August hurricane and likely can't be saved.

"Thank God my wife insisted we all stay together as a family in the basement that fateful night," said Chenelly, assistant national director of communications for the Disabled American Veterans in Washington, D.C.

Before taking his current post, Chenelly was a prominent U.S. Marine war correspondent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bedroom victory came with a one-year subscription to Angie's List, which lists thousands of home service reviews.

"With so many houses hit by the hurricane, there have been a lot of people coming out of the woodwork offering contracting services, but it's really hard to know who's qualified to do it," Chenelly said. "Being able to use Angie's List to sort through them will be a huge help."

Melanie Aycock, another finalist from Blountstown, Fla., threw her support to Chenelly and urged other Facebook friends to vote for him. "I still have my bedroom, messy as it is right now," she said.

The fallen tree sheared off the outer wall of Chenelly's bedroom. His winning photo shows the bed and furnishings spilling out the gaping hole into the backyard.

See for yourself at

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