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Northern Ireland couple engaged amid hurricane Irma chaos in Florida

By Jonathan Bell

A couple from Northern Ireland have celebrated their whirlwind romance by getting engaged in Florida during one of the biggest hurricanes ever recorded in the US.

Holly McCay and Raymond Murray are holidaying in Orlando in Florida where - as they had planned - the Co Antrim couple got engaged.

What they didn't expect was having to stock up on supplies and batten down the hatches in anticipation of Irma, the monster hurricane and the biggest to hit the mainland US in almost 100 years.

"We had talked about getting engaged for a while, and we thought why not wait until we got to Florida and it would be more romantic," said Holly (32) who has been with 30-year-old Raymond for 10 years this month.

While they expected a rollercoaster of a time at all the theme parks, they only ever expected turbulence on the plane.

But Irma had other ideas, as she wreaked havoc coast to coast on the state of Florida.

Flash flooding and 100mph plus winds have devastated the area.

More than 6.5m homes and businesses were without power yesterday, as almost 200,000 people huddled in shelters across the state.

And while Holly from Greenisland and Raymond from Carrick escaped the worst, they were under orders not to leave their hotel over the weekend and to ensure they had enough water and food to see them through.

At one stage a fire alarm did go off and they had to leave their room and venture into the storm.

But it was quickly determined to be a false alarm and they were able to return to their room.

"The first we heard about it was from home with all the text messages of people worried about us and then the hotel put out warnings," said Holly.

"We were worried and concerned that we may have to evacuate but then realised it was too late to go anywhere so we had to stay put.

"It was windy, and the rain was torrential but fortunately we did escape the worst.

"We have seen reports of people literally blown away."

Popping the question was actually a quiet affair with Raymond going down on bended knee almost as soon as they got into their hotel room.

"I cried, I think, we were both so exhausted by all the travel," said Holly.

"It hasn't really sunk in.

"But we wanted it to be just the two of us.

"He knows me and that I wouldn't want any big public show of affection or like being the centre of attention."

And while they may have got engaged in a hurricane, there is nothing stormy about their relationship.

"We are the perfect couple, we get on so well we have no time for arguments ... it was meant to be," said Holly.

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