CBSN

Wedding party from N.Y. aids Vt. town post-Irene

Marc and Janina Leibowitz followed their hearts in planning their perfect wedding.

"We wanted to have a rustic wedding in Vermont," Marc says.

Pittsfield, Vermont. A mile long. Postcard perfect. Population 453. As Vermont as maple syrup, observes

CBS News Correspondent Marc Strassmann.

Last Saturday, Marc, an artist, and Janina, a German marketing representative, become husband and wife here.

"Saturday night," Marc says, "she told me it was her dream wedding." "And it was," Janina chimed in. "Everything was perfect. It was beautiful."

But on Sunday, Irene crashed their wedding weekend.

Blanket coverage: Hurricane Irene

Tropical rains caused the Tweed River to overflow its banks.

By Sunday night, Route 100, the battered mountain town's only way out, was washed out on both sides.

The only way for us to get there was -- by chopper.

"It really shook me when I saw this (flooding), Marc says. "When I saw this, I realized we wouldn't be leaving for awhile."

Did your heart sink? Was your honeymoon in jeopardy?

"I never thought we'd be stuck here for a week," Marc responded. "You know, we maybe felt we'd spend another couple of days. When we heard seven-to-ten days, we were a little shocked."

The historic covered bridge they were married beside was washed away.

So suddenly, they were all stuck here.

And then the same wedding party that came here to celebrate a married couple's beginning -- rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to help give this town a fresh start, providing a silver lining in the dark clouds.

Janina's German family, like everyone stranded here, made an impression that stuck, on locals like Lee Ann Isaacson. "The wedding people that got stuck here with us," she said, "high and dry, were so amazing. Pardon me, I'll get choked up."

In a town still without power, with limited food and lots of need, everyone lent a hand.

What kind of little projects did the newlyweds do to pitch in?

"Doing dishes at the general store," Marc replied. "Cooking at the general store," Janina added. "Her father," marc said, "helped shovel mud out of somebody's house. We've all been chipping in. We've gotta give back to them. Their generosity's been unbelievable."

"They never said 'no,' Isaacson said. "When I sent them out to clean the dumpster which, I'm telling you, was walking away on its own legs, they came back and said, 'That was the nastiest job I've ever had. But it's done."'

But even in crisis, the people of Pittsfield never said 'no,' either.

"They've been making sure everyone gets a hot meal at night," Marc said, "making sure they get water. They've been cooking for everyone. Like a barbecue. Everybody has been so cooperative in this town." Said Janina, "They're so giving. We were so happy we got stuck here."

Then on Wednesday, an unexpected wedding gift: a patched-up road to Killington, Vt. re-opened early.

"Beyond Woodstock," Marc said, "we're hearing the roads are passable and we can head on down."

For the Liebowitzes, a chance to get out, to get home.

This Saturday, they could begin their honeymoon in Hawaii.

"It's been a great wedding and a great start to out married life," Marc says, "but we're excited to go home."

And when they come back here, first they'll check the forecast!

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.