Maine wedding party returns home after being stranded on St. Martin

A wedding party from Maine has arrived back in the United States after being stranded on the Caribbean island of St. Martin during Hurricane Irma.

Amanda Peterson and Joe Riley, of Bangor, were married on Sept. 3 on the beach outside Sonesta Maho Resort on the Dutch side of the island, known as Sint Maarten, Maine Public reported. Most of the wedding attendees flew out the day after the ceremony, but the newly-married couple and 13 members of their wedding party stayed on the island despite the impending hurricane.

Local residents had told them St. Martin does not usually feel the effects of hurricanes as much as other locations, Peterson’s father, who left Monday, told the radio station.

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When the Category 5 hurricane wreaked havoc on the island a few days later, Brittany LeVasseur, one of the guests, texted her mother in Bangor, “The ceiling is shaking. The ceiling is moving. Mom, I’m really scared,” according to the Portland Press HeraldLeVasseur’s mother also said the resort where the group stayed was destroyed.

The wedding party evacuated to the Dominican Republic on Saturday, the newspaper reported, and then was flown to Toronto for free by Canadian company Sunwing Airlines.

Early Monday morning, the saga concluded when U.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin, who helped arrange the evacuation, met the party at the Maine border.

The congressman posted a group picture on his official Facebook page with the caption, “This was the scene early this morning as our fellow Mainers finally made it home. I made certain they successfully made it through customs and one step closer to some eager families, excited to have them home!”

The Associated Press reported on Friday about 6,000 Americans were stranded on St. Martin. At least 500 have since been rescued by U.S. military aircraft, according to The Hill.

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