Billy and Beth Siskâ€™s wedding trip to Cancun, Mexico had a lot of firsts â€” first time on an airplane, first time out of the countryâ€¦ first time surviving a life-threatening hurricane.
The couple cemented their nine-year relationship, which had produced a son, at an Oct. 15 wedding and by the 16th were ready for their week-long honeymoon.
â€œWe went downhill from there,â€ said Beth Sisk. â€œYou wouldâ€™ve thought we got married on the 13th to see what happened.â€
The first four days of the honeymoon were idyllic. The sun was shining, the Cancun resort was beautiful and the beach was paradise.
Eventually, however, news of an oncoming hurricane caught up with the newlyweds.
â€œWe had a good time up until that point,â€ said Sisk. â€œThen we got a little scared.â€
Before they had a chance to book a flight out of the country, the airport was closed and the Sisks were told to move into a conference center closer inland.
Along with 3,000 other people, the couple filed into the building, chose cots to sleep on and waited for the hurricane to hit.
Thursday night was fine. They watched movies, talked to people and enjoyed the air conditioning.
Things, of course, changed quickly for the worse.
â€œBy Friday morning the realization had set in that (Hurricane Wilma) was on top of us, and it wasnâ€™t moving,â€ said Sisk.
The walls of the conference center vibrated. Pieces of the ceiling occasionally fell. Sisk couldnâ€™t see the hurricane, but she sure could hear it.
â€œIt sounded like a train,â€ she said.
For three days, 3,000 people stayed in the conference center. The Sisks learned a lot of new card games and made many friends.
On Monday, after mold on the carpet had begun to make people sick, they were finally allowed outside.
Hurricane Wilma had certainly left her mark. Trees were down. The golf course was flooded. Concrete telephone lines had been cut in half and billboards were twisted so badly they looked like roller coasters.
The oceanfront hotel was roughed up as well and local houses were demolished.
Despite this fact, hotel employees served tourists three delicious meals a day and catered to their customers.
â€œThey were still working to provide for us with a smile on their face,â€ Sisk said.
The tourists, in turn, also did their bit to help each other, organizing sick bays, pharmacies, communication desks and places to receive information on flights home.
Sisk volunteered at the â€œSanitation Stationâ€ handing out antiseptic wipes, a much-needed commodity in a place with no running water.
After two weeks in Cancun, the Sisks were desperate to go home, but getting back was no easy task.
After much frustration and waiting through lines where locals were selling â€œI Survived Hurricane Wilmaâ€ T-shirts, they finally made it onto a flight home.
â€œOnce we took off, there was major applause on that plane,â€ Sisk said.
Despite the difficulties, Sisk is grateful for the honeymoon, which she feels was a gift from God. For one thing, â€œHe showed me another world.â€ Also importantly, He started off her marriage with a bang.
â€œHe brought a new marriage together quickly,â€ she said.
by Sarah Grano