A Baton Rouge man and his relatives who flew to a Caribbean island resort for his brother's wedding found themselves sheltering in their hotel rooms Wednesday as Hurricane Irma roared across the French island territory of St. Martin, one of the first landfalls of the Category 5 storm.
St. Martin and another island, St. Barthelemy, were among the first to suffer a direct hit from Irma, with 185 mph winds reported and storm surge of up to 20 feet.
Rob Lane, of Baton Rouge, said through Facebook that he and family had ignored the commands by staff of the Divi Beach Resort to shelter in a hotel meeting room.
"The hotel told us it was mandatory to hole up in their conference center, but it's at sea level," where waves could be seen battering the windows, Lane wrote.
He and his relatives, instead, went to their own hotel rooms.
"My uncle and I stayed in our third-floor room. After the patio door flew off, we went to our plan B, which was a utility closet, where we stayed all night," Lane said.
"The storm passed like a freight train for hours. Trees were banging the building," he said.
It was terrifying, Lane said.
"Meanwhile, an air conditioner went through the conference center roof and the floor buckled," he said.
The hotel was without electricity or running water Wednesday, but there were plenty of supplies for the people there, said Lane, who is hoping to be able to return to Baton Rouge on Sunday.
Lane, who is chief executive officer of the Baton Rouge-based consulting firm Comite Resources, said he had flown into St. Martin from Baton Rouge on Sunday to join his father, stepmother, half-brother, sister and uncle and other relatives for the wedding of his brother Ian Lane and Mark Gisler, both of Manhattan.
"My brother's wedding is Friday, but everything is devastated, so I don't think it will happen as planned," Rob Lane, previously a research associate in LSU's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, wrote.