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Utah couple braces for Cat. 4 hurricane after renewing vows in Jamaica

Posted at 4:48 PM, Jul 02, 2024

WHITE HOUSE, JAMAICA — As locals in the Caribbean prepare for Hurricane Beryl to make landfall early Wednesday, a Utah couple in Jamaica to renew their wedding vows are among those preparing for the worst.

Utahns Michelle Mannikko and her husband, Lonny, are waiting as Beryl bears down as a Cat. 4 storm, the strongest July hurricane on record.

"We are a little bit anxious, a little bit nervous because we don't know what to expect," Michelle said from Jamaica Tuesday.
Michelle said that while Lonny is usually the romantic one, it was her idea to renew their marriage with their our own vows. The ceremony was scheduled for Thursday, but was moved to Tuesday because of the storm. 

Resort management at Sandals South Coast also moved the couple to a safer room for at least the next 48 hours.

"They're going to stock all of our rooms with plenty of snacks and water," said Michelle. "They're going to put us above ground, and anyone on the first floor in the main property is going to be moved up as well because they're assuming there's going to be at least a foot of water that comes in."

The resort held an on-property meeting to prepare guests for Beryl.

"After 6 p.m. they're not letting any other flights out, so we did see some people after the meeting today running with their suitcases because they were trying to get to the airport to catch a flight because they just didn't want to miss the opportunity to get off the land," Michelle said.

The Mannikko's have started making their own preparations with family back home.

"We already told them we might have a period of time when communication is down, but we already have a plan to communicate via WhatsApp," explained Michelle. "We're just hoping for the best and hopefully we'll get home safe and on time."

It's not exactly the vow renewal the couple had envisioned, but Michelle is glad they'll weather the storm together.

"It was very special," she said, "So I'm glad we got the opportunity to move it up and actually do it today."