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Friday
Aug262011

Hurricane Irene Hampers Weekend Travel Plans, Weddings

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- States of emergency in advance of Hurricane Irene's expected assault on the East Coast this weekend have led to busted plans likely to affect businesses and travelers' wallets.

Travelers are scrambling to change airplane and train tickets while hotels deal with cancelled reservations.

Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and counties in South Carolina have declared states of emergency.

Andy Fink, an evening manager at the Dayton House Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, said the effect of Hurricane Irene is not yet as harsh as that of Hurricane Charley in 2004, when the resort had to implement a mandatory evacuation of its guests.  But even with the area on watch for a tropical storm, there have been nearly 20 cancelled reservations in two days.

Fink said many of his guests were from New Jersey and many checked out to return home ahead of the storm.

At the beginning of the week, the resort, which has a seven-day cancellation policy and a non-refundable deposit, gave guests who wanted to cancel their reservations full refunds, with a $20 service fee for staff services and credit card processing.

Erica Jackson, a guest at the resort from Bristol, Tennessee, planned to have her dream beach wedding through the Myrtle Beach Wedding Chapel on Friday and stay in town until Sunday.  Instead, her family decided to push the wedding to Wednesday evening and drove back to Tennessee on Thursday.

The resort agreed to give her credit for future use for the block of rooms she reserved.

Ashley Martin, the chapel manager, said out of five weddings scheduled for Saturday, two couples postponed until a later date, one couple cancelled completely, and two couples planned to proceed as scheduled.

There were at least 448 expected weddings this weekend in north and central New Jersey, 401 in North Carolina, 264 in Virginia, 264 in Connecticut, 209 in South Carolina, and 151 in South Jersey, according to The Knot Wedding Network.

If the hurricane hits those areas, chances are couples will have to reschedule, postpone or cancel their cerimonies, said Amy Eisinger, associate editor of WeddingChannel.com, which is owned by The Knot.

Items like rental equipment, lighting, draping and tents will most likely not be eligible for refunds, Eisinger said.

She recommended couples invest in wedding insurance, which can cost around $350, to cover loss of photos, video, rings, deposits, attire, and presents in the case of high-risk wedding dates, situations and locations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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