NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When Scott Imbrosciano and his girlfriend, Lauren Stallworth, flew to St. Maarten last Saturday for a romantic getaway, Hurricane Irma’s trajectory was still uncertain.
They tried to get out as soon as it became clear the island was in the path of the Category 5 storm.
“We went Monday to the airport and there were no flights available,” Imbrosciano told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
They waited out the storm with about 300 other resort guests and employees in makeshift bunkers.
“An employee of the hotel was kind of near the door, and the door literately flew open, and he almost got sucked in,” Imbrosciano said. “His feet were in the air. Somebody nearby happened to hold his arm — grab his arm — and a few other people came to help, as well.”
The next morning, it was time to assess the damage.
The survivors tried organizing themselves into recovery teams, clearing debris, rationing food and caring for young children at the resort.
“You are no longer hotel guests. We are refugees. And we need everyone to work,” Stallworth said.
The couple said as days passed, the island became even more dangerous.
“People with machetes, people with long sticks, pipes,” Imbrosciano said.
On Friday night, a hotel official woke them up.
“He goes, ‘OK here’s the deal: We’ve secured a jet for tomorrow morning with 99 available seats,’” Imbrosciano said.
They arrived back in New York on Saturday morning in an emotional airport reunion with their worried loved ones. Video showed the Air National Guard evacuating more U.S. citizens Sunday.
“Everyone has a family. Everyone’s worried,” said Stallworth.
“You really had a great appreciation for humanity, for survival, for your lives,” said Imbrosciano.
The couple was happy to be home, but still fearful for what will happen to everyone else still on the island.
They said they flew back on a commercial airplane that the resort owner arranged, but they still don’t know how it was decided which guests got on that plane.