When Dubliner Cerri McQuillan decided to plan a summer wedding in upstate New York, she never imagined she would have a hurricane to contend with.
“We thought about what we would do if it rained, but no one prepares for that kind of weather,” she told the Irish Voice.
Despite the imminent threat of high speed winds and torrential downpour, McQuillan and her husband Joey Wehner tied the knot on Saturday evening in an outdoor wedding in Columbia County.
Canceling was not an option, the bride told the Irish Voice. She admits she was in denial about the adverse weather warnings.
“It was very hard to believe as up there on Friday the weather was gorgeous,” McQuillan said.
“We were going to go ahead regardless. My family came over from Ireland and it was not an option not to cancel.
“Reality set in when everyone started canceling left right and center,” she said.
After almost 50 people cancelled in the lead-up to the storm, the couple decided to downsize the affair.
“We got a smaller tent, but then the tent people called to say they needed it back the following morning by 7 a.m., before the storm hit,” said McQuillan.
Once all the guests left on Saturday night, the newlyweds and their family had to ensure the tent was ready for collection in the morning.
“Originally the party was due to go on the whole night, but around 2 a.m. once everyone left we had to strip away everything from the tent,” she said.
“We put on our scuba gear,” she joked before admitting she threw a green wooly jumper over her wedding dress to get the job done.
Not every bride’s dream to be preparing for the onslaught of a hurricane on the night of her wedding, but despite this McQuillan says she would do it all again.
“I think we almost had a better time because of it! “It made it more memorable. We may even call the first girl Irene!” she joked.
Meanwhile, in downtown Manhattan close to the South Street Seaport, business in Ryan Maguire’s Ale House on Cliff Street was bustling throughout the storm.
Proprietor Tommy Maguire told the Irish Voice he was glad they didn’t go with “plan A” to close the bar.
“We were open throughout and we had no damage. The power stayed on,” he said.
“We had a lot of locals in on Saturday, and on Sunday a lot of tourists.”
Breathing a sigh of relief after the weekend storm, Maguire admits he was nervous about the possible destruction of Irene after witnessing flooding before in downtown Manhattan.
“Last week I was very concerned, but we arranged that the staff would stay overnight and we were delighted that it didn’t come as bad as they had predicted,” he said.
Over in New Jersey, Mallory Erickson, the manager of Thatcher Magees Irish Pub and Eatery, is still dealing with the after effects of Irene.
Situated on Wanaque Avenue in Pompton Lakes, the Irish pub was able to remain open throughout the storm, despite most of the town being flooded.
“One side of town is under water and everyone was evacuated on Sunday,” she told the Irish Voice.
“It’s crazy -- we are a mile away from a disaster. When you drive down the street it looks like a different world. There is still water on the streets and trees are down.”
Erickson, who was working all weekend, said that many people came to the bar for refuge after Irene had hit.
“On Saturday night we had heavy winds and crazy rain and business was fizzling, but on Sunday, everyone had gotten flooded around here and we were the only restaurant open. I can’t even tell you how busy we were,” she said.
With many people evacuated, and countless without power, locals sought out a warm place to wait out the storm.
“I had at least 100 phone calls asking if we had power. I would say 50% were coming from flooded areas,” Erickson said.
With her own house flooded after the storm damage, the New Jersey woman said she was content to work over the weekend.
“Our whole basement and the first floor was flooded and we still have about five foot of water in the basement.
“There is nothing I can do right now, I was happy to keep working over the weekend,” she reflected.
The manager praised the local community and authorities for rallying together during the storm.
“The police officers and National Guard were brilliant,” Erickson said.
“Living in Pompton Lakes everyone knows each other and wants to help,” she concluded.