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Isabel's long reach

Hurricane changes plans for many in Tri-State

Hurricane changes plans for many in Tri-State

September 17, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Some Tri-State area residents will be affected by Hurricane Isabel even if the storm does not rumble very far inland.

Among them are a family who had to change plans for a wedding, a West Virginia woman who owns a home on the Potomac River, a recreational vehicle park administrator and a Hagerstown man whose parents live in what has been a hurricane hot spot in recent decades.

For a year, Alan and Susan Levin helped their daughter Elisa, 27, now a resident of Oakland, Calif., plan her wedding on North Carolina's Outer Banks. The wedding is scheduled for this weekend.

"The plan was to get married at a house we had on the beach in the Outer Banks," Alan Levin said. "It was all planned and people were coming in from all over the place."

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But with Isabel approaching the mid-Atlantic coast, the Levins moved the wedding and reception to Hagerstown.

In less than a week, plans for Elisa Levin's marriage to Kevin Kinnee were made with a little help from Congregation B'Nai Abraham, where they will exchange vows; Roccoco, where the reception will be held; and Peter Grunberg, a Hagerstown-based disc jockey.

"People know everybody in this town, and they're helpful," Alan Levin said. "They just wanted to be part of the happy celebration."

Alan Levin, who originally was to join the 95 wedding guests in North Carolina last Sunday, said the family realized that hoping the storm would steer clear of the coast would have been a bad idea. Now, the vast majority of the guests are driving north and west to Hagerstown.

"(The couple is) doing really well," he said. "Once the decision was made and they knew it'd be a great time, they were OK with it."

Luck may be on the couple's side because of the bad wedding weather, according to a superstitious family friend.

"One of our friends from New York said if rain on a wedding day is lucky, than imagine what a hurricane is," Susan Levin said.

Chris Carr, who lives in the Honeywood housing development along the Potomac River in Falling Waters, W.Va., said many riverfront residents have spent the last two days removing outdoor furniture and two boats - a ski boat and a pontoon - in preparations for bad conditions.

"All the people I know have taken out the boats, and some are taking out docks so they do not get swept away," Carr said. "We're concerned that if we left anything in the water it would be jeopardized for sure."

Carr said she and her husband opted not to remove their dock because of the difficulty in doing so.

"Our dock will be in - We're crossing our fingers," she said.

Carr joked that she might throw a hurricane party if flooding in her yard reaches the level it did when Hurricane Fran swept through over Labor Day weekend in 1996. Carr said she and friends were sitting on a floating dock in their backyard after that storm.

Carr said she was concerned about the dangers associated with a possible north and west turn of Isabel.

"I'm hoping we don't get the high wind because all up the river we have 60-foot-high trees," she said. "It'd be a shame if someone was injured, or if we lost old-growth trees."

Also on the Potomac River, owners of plots at Riverbend Park, a recreational vehicle camping area, were moving their vehicles this week, according to park President Waymon Wright. Wright said staff members spent Tuesday urging owners of space near low-lying areas near the river to move their trailers to a storage area nearby.

"They're risking loss if they don't," Wright said. "We would not be held responsible if they decide not to do anything. We're doing our part by notifying everybody that there are some dangers here."

Not everyone is as concerned about Isabel and its potential wrath.

David Brown, who had lived in Hagerstown for five years, said his parents, David and Connie Brown, were bracing for the storm in Hampton, Va.

Brown said his parents had not yet left because they had not been ordered to do so.

"They went out, bought food, water, flashlights, oil for their lamps and wood for their fireplaces," said Brown, who said he lived in the Hampton area for 18 years. "My family is kind of used to it. There's so many that blow through there."

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