Newlyweds trapped in paradise
October 25, 2005
Tulum, Mexico – A Carson City couple on their honeymoon in Cancun had their vacation extended a week after they were forced to weather Hurricane Wilma with hundreds of others in a hotel conference room for four days.
Kendra Furlong-Heady said Tuesday by phone from Mexico she and husband, Ed, married Oct. 15 and arrived in Cozumel, Mexico, on Oct. 17. The next day, they were evacuated to Cancun. As the Category 3 hurricane bore down on the Mexican Gulf Coast, staff at the Adventure Palace ushered about 800 other tourists and staff into a conference room that doubles as a storm shelter.
“During the storm, we could hear some very, very strong winds, and water was seeping in through the walls,” she said. “We were sleeping on beach lawn chairs, and it really wasn’t that bad, but for days (hotel staff) said they had no information about anything. No flights, no rooms, no showers, no electricity.”
Furlong-Heady said that on Sunday when a satellite phone became available, she was the 15th person in a line of 500 to use it. She called her father, Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong, to say she was OK. The connection was lost after 45 seconds.
Kenny Furlong said that when he heard the strain in his daughter’s voice he began to really worry.
“I figured they were safe, but I was more worried about their mental health,” said his wife, Phyllis Furlong. “Ken didn’t sleep all night after he talked to Kendra.”
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After two days, Ed and another tourist ventured out into the city to try to get a cell phone signal. He was able to reach his father and report they couple was OK.
Kendra said the hotel tried to be as accommodating as possible, but they were reluctant to allow people to leave the building, and it took some debating to get them release the couple’s luggage.
“At first we were told we’d be there for 24 hours. Then they kept saying that. After four days, I was crying. Every bit of hope they said was coming would fall through,” Kendra recalled. “It was a helpless hopeless situation.”
On Tuesday, along with another couple they met in the shelter, they paid a taxi driver $100 to drive them 20 minutes outside of Cancun.
There they found a hotel with water, electricity and phone service.
The airport reopened Tuesday, and the two will board a plane Friday.
“This is our honeymoon. We can’t get out until Friday so we’ll try to make the best of the last few days that we have. We are safe and alive, and we are together,” she said.
n Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.