Editor's Note: This article was written by Christopher Engelhardt.
In what made for a joyous and at times emotional event, nearly a dozen couples impacted by Hurricane Sandy including one from Bellmore renewed their wedding vows on Valentine’s Day at a ceremony led by Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray at the Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park.
Eleven couples from across Long Island, along with family and friends, enjoyed a delectable cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres , refreshments and live music, followed by the wedding vow renewal ceremony, which included narrated stories of each couple’s encounter with Sandy.
In addition to the Bridgeview Yacht Club, other sponsors on Long Island contributed to the event. A Taste of Home Bakery in North Bellmore provided a wedding cake, as well as take-home cakes and gift chocolates for the couples, King Kullen Supermarket offered bouquets to brides, Wicks Florist in Baldwin provided floral arrangements and Rossiter Financial Group in Huntington sponsored the musical performance.
Drew and Michele Hanson, of Bellmore, have been married for nearly 24 years and have two children. Their home of close to 25 years in South Bellmore was hit hard by Sandy, Drew said, noting that though they prepared for the storm, their home was flooded with four and a half feet of water, and the entire first floor was destroyed.
“We didn’t evacuate, we didn’t expect it to get that bad, and to be honest, I was scared,” he told Patch. “Now, we’re back in the house—we were out for over a month. We have no kitchen, just a microwave, a hot plate and a crock pot. We’re getting by, one day at a time.”
The couples were all invited by the Town of Hempstead to participate in the event, and were more than happy to do so, residents said. And Valentine’s Day, said Charlie and Laura Spoto, of Seaford, made it all the more special.
Married for nearly 16 years with a home on Somerset Drive for 22 years, the couple told Patch that months after Sandy ravaged their house, they’re still homeless as they wait on approvals and funding to elevate and then renovate their home.
“We’ve been out of our bungalow home for three and a half months,” Charlie said. “The first floor is completely gone — we’re waiting on the town now to give us a permit to lift the home so we can start rebuilding. It’s pretty bad.”
Wantagh residents Barry and Caryn Amper, married nearly 33 years, also took a vow of marriage once again at Thursday's event.
Following the ceremony, couples enjoyed a festive after party which included a champagne toast and tasty treats, including a cake embroidered with the event’s theme, “Love that has weathered the storm.”
Couples said that though they continue to deal with various struggles in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the event, even if for a few hours, allowed them to celebrate their love for one another and provided them with peace of mind.
“This gave us a chance to get away from the constant thinking of what happened to us,” Charlie Spoto said. “They did an outstanding job—it will be, at this point, probably the only nice memory in the past three and a half months, and it will stick with us.”
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