Members of a wedding party from Maine who were stranded on St. Martin in the Caribbean made it safely to the Dominican Republic on Saturday and were preparing for an evening flight to Toronto.

“It’s a big relief. We’re all very happy,” said Suzanne LeVasseur, whose daughter, Brittany LeVasseur, was among 19 members of the Bangor-area wedding party that traveled to the resort island last week for the wedding. “The party is good. Everybody is safe.”

They flew to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and were waiting for a flight to Toronto on Saturday evening, and then either another flight or a bus from Toronto to Bangor on Sunday.

“We’re glad to be (going) home,” Brittany LeVasseur texted from the airport on Sunday afternoon.

She went to the Caribbean island, along with 18 other people from Maine, for the Sept. 3 wedding of Joe Riley and Amanda Peterson. Days after the wedding, Irma slammed into the island, which is divided between French and Dutch control.

The wedding was on the Dutch side of the island, known as Sint Maarten.

The Category 5 hurricane leveled much of the island. Eyewitness reports suggested that 80 to 90 percent of the structures on the island were destroyed, and the island remained under a hurricane watch Saturday and was preparing for another blow from Hurricane Jose.

The island resort where they stayed, the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino & Spa, was destroyed, LeVasseur said, and its owner helped arrange the evacuation of resort guests. Their evacuation by U.S. military planes and commercial aircraft began Friday and continued through Saturday, according to updates on the resort website.

Sunwing Airlines, a Canadian company, arranged to fly the Maine wedding party to Toronto, LeVasseur said in her text.

“Canada came to the rescue and brought us to the Dominican and now flying us for free to Toronto,” she wrote. “And they are feeding us!”

Suzanne LeVasseur praised U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine, R-2nd District, for helping arrange the evacuation of her daughter and the rest of the wedding party. “He’s really helped push things along, and we’re very grateful,” she said.

The party was expected to leave the Dominican Republic around 9 p.m. Saturday and arrive in Toronto at 1 a.m. or so, but that flight was delayed, and LeVasseur said it was “still up in the air” when they would leave for home.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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