CBC IN FLORIDA

Rain on your wedding day: Couple marries early to avoid Irma

Ian and Leslie Urbas of Jacksonville, Florida, held their wedding a day early, while everyone was still in town and before Hurricane Irma hit.

In Jacksonville, residents take one last beach stroll before riding out Irma

Ian and Leslie Urbas show off their wedding rings. They moved the ceremony up a day to avoid Hurricane Irma. (Tom Parry/CBC)

With Hurricane Irma rapidly approaching, a few curious storm watchers in Jacksonville, Florida, spent the morning trying to catch an early glimpse of the fury that's set to descend on their state.

Authorities in Jacksonville were closing the city's beaches Saturday. But many local people ventured out to the seaside early in the day to check out the wind and surf before the big storm hits.

"We wanted to come down one last time," said Ian Urbas, who says he plans to stay put in Jacksonville and ride out the hurricane. His home is in a part of town not under evacuation order.

All our family was saying if it rains on your wedding day, it's a sign your marriage will weather any storm- Ian Urbas

Urbas came to the shore with his wife, Leslie, to mark a very special occasion: their wedding. The ceremony was supposed to take place today, but the couple moved it up to beat the storm.

"Everyone was here, so we did it yesterday," said Leslie.

"All our family was saying if it rains on your wedding day, it's a sign your marriage will weather any storm," said Ian. "Getting married in a hurricane, we must be able to withstand anything."

Jacksonville, in northeast Florida, is not expected to be hit as hard as other parts of the state. But a mandatory evacuation order is in effect in parts of the city, especially those closest to shore.

Windows are boarded up at several businesses near Jacksonville Beach, with many shutting down in advance of the storm.

Many residents determined to stay

But many people are determined to stay, hopeful the hurricane will lose strength by the time it reaches them.

"We're not leaving. We're prepared," said Eddie Vergara. Eddie and his wife Lisa came out to the beach Saturday morning to walk their dog Gandalf.
The winds and sea are whipped up off the Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami on Saturday as Irma approaches. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

"Our whole street is staying, so there's plenty of help if we need it," said Lisa. "We're going to try to wait it out."

Bill Rutledge, who brought his grandson down to the beach to see the waves, says he too plans to stay.

But he expects the next few days to be tense. "It's going to get rough," he said. "This is a bad situation."

About the Author

Tom Parry

Senior Reporter

Tom Parry is a reporter on Parliament Hill for CBC News. He has covered stories for CBC from across Canada and around the world.