Big thank you from

local couple caught up in Cancun hurricane

Chris and Ciara forced to flee as Emily strikes Mexico

Ciara McAallister and Chris Kelly. A LOCAL couple have described how their dream holiday turned to terror as the full force of Hurricane Emily struck the Mexican resort of Cancun.Ciara McAallister and Chris Kelly.

The storm, one of the worst to strike Mexico in 88 years forced Chris Kelly (29) from Killowen Grange and his girlfriend Ciara McAllister (28) of Banbridge to flee the luxurious beachfront Riu Cancun Hotel.

The couple who had planned a quiet holiday in idyllic settings overlooking long white beaches and calm seas, were instead forced to spend Sunday night in a local school without power as the Category Four hurricane which had already claimed four lives in the Caribbean battered the coastline.
Winds reaching 135 miles per hour whipped up huge waves as the couple and scores of other tourists sheltered in the building.

Chris, a Manager with Lindsay Cars and Ciara, a buyer for clothing firm Eastwood left for Mexico on July 13 unaware that Emily had the country in its sights. They believed they were going on holiday to enjoy sunny weather and had no idea of the horror about to unfold.

However, two days after their arrival they heard someone say Hurricane Emily was heading for Cancun.

Late on the Saturday night they were told they would have to leave the hotel in the morning.

At 7.30am on Sunday they were wakened by the staff who told them to quickly get ready as they had to leave the hotel. They were told to bring an overnight bag, pillows and blankets.

Holiday makers take shelter in local school. After breakfast they were bussed 10 miles to an overcrowded sports hall. However, when complaints were made about the conditions,

Chris and Ciara along with other hotel guests, were taken to a nearby school.

They were left in class-rooms where there were about 30 to 50 people per room.

During the day they walked around while staff from their hotel catered for their needs.

They were offered water, pastries and fruit. They were also able to go to the local supermarket where they first realised how seriously locals were taking the hurricane scare.

They noticed people were stocking up and there were long queues in all the supermarkets.

At 7pm they were told they had to return to the school as the hurricane was about to strike.

By this stage the sky had started to turn black and cloudy as the winds began to pick up.

Earlier Chris helped other guests to tape up the windows of the school.

It was predicted the storm would strike about 10pm but it was almost midnight before Cancun felt the full force of the storm.

The power went out around this time which meant there was no light or air conditioning.

Chris, Ciara and their fellow tourists listened for signs of the hurricane raging through the resort afraid something would strike the school.

Chris had a sleepless night listening to the storms battering through Cancun and the tempest did not begin to die down until around 4.OOam.

Three hours later it rained heavily and people in the school began to move around again.

"When we were taken back to the hotel we discovered the devastation that the hurricane had left behind," said Chris.

"I think it only really hit us the following day just how bad it really had been. At the time we just thought lets just get through this. I think we were very lucky we did not get the worst of it but I certainly would not like to go through that again."

Ulster Star