A Boston chef and his wife had just 10 minutes to escape their battered and quickly flooding Caribbean hotel as Hurricane Irma’s deceitfully calm eye cruised overhead.
The fleeting reprieve from the monster storm’s 185 mph winds gave Brian Poe, of Boston’s Tip Tap Room, and others barely enough time to seek new shelter before the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort in St. Martin was ripped apart by the hurricane, he told the Boston Herald.
The resort’s heroic manager, Alex Kantner, had already led the way for about 100 guests and staffers, who ran from a collapsing ballroom to the kitchen as it filled with water. Next, the frightened group scaled as many floors as they could.
“We all ran. It was bizarre, everything was destroyed — but it was silent,” Poe told the paper of his harrowing ordeal.
And it was obvious when the eye had passed.
“All hell broke loose again. Roofs and glass and fire alarms and more wind and water everywhere,” Poe added.
“We wouldn’t be alive if it were not for Alex Kantner and staff.”
The storm would soon rip apart the hotel’s sixth and seventh floors, according to the Washington Post, before barreling toward Puerto Rico and Cuba.
Poe and his wife, who hoped to celebrate their wedding anniversary during the tropical retreat, were stranded before Irma hit. The duo spent the next two days shuttling between the devastated airport and a shelter hoping to hitch a ride home.
Damaged buildings and fallen trees litter downtown Marigot, on the island of St. Martin.
The couple were among 500 Americans eventually evacuated from St. Martin as Hurricane Jose loomed eastward.
The couple eventually hitched a ride to Puerto Rico with members of the New York Air National Guard on Friday night.
As Irma’s growing Category 4 strength winds threatened to wreak havoc in Florida’s Key West on Sunday, Poe relayed a warning for those hunkering down.
“Tell Florida, it’s not joke,” he told the Herald.
“Do your best to get out of there or to a shelter.”