After Irma hits, NC dad unable to contact disabled son in St. Maarten

NEWTON GROVE, N.C. (WNCN) — A Sampson County father is sick with worry over his disabled teenage son who’s trapped in St. Maarten after Hurricane Irma battered the island — and now Hurricane José is on the way.

Wednesday was the last time Daniel Cohen spoke with his son — just hours before Hurricane Irma decimated the island of St. Maarten.

Daniel Cohen recalled the last conversation he had with his son.

“He said that ‘we emptied the restaurant freezers so we have steak and lobster for the next week, plenty of fuel for the generator and we’re in a concrete bunker up in the mountains’,” Cohen recalled.

Zachary Cohen, 17, lived in Newton Grove and went to Johnston High School until just a few months ago.

He has spent the last several months living in St. Maarten with his Dutch mother, Brigette Van den Bosch, helping her run her restaurant named Harry’s Place in Simpson Bay.

Daniel Cohen finally got in touch with his ex-wife’s brother in Aruba, who managed to get word that she and Zachary survived Irma.

“The message I got from my ex-wife’s brother was they are holding up tourists at gun point and robbing people with machetes and driving bulldozers through people’s homes,” Daniel Cohen said. “If that’s not disturbing, I don’t know what is.”

Daniel says he worries about his son all the time and admits he’s over protective, mainly because of his son’s cerebral palsy.

“I feel incapacitated,” said Daniel. “I feel frustrated and not able to do the very thing that I wanna do and that’s be a father. My son is everything to me as most parents would say, but with his disability, a little more to me. He has seizures they’re so severe you can barely get a pulse.”

Hurricane Irma destroyed the airport in St Maarten, but now Daniel Cohen is trying to find a way to charter a plane to a nearby island.

“Everything’s gone black in the Caribbean,” Daniel said. “You can’t ever get a response to an email, a text message so there’s just no infrastructure left so outside of putting on a pair of swim trunks and swimming there I have no idea how I can even get there.”

Daniel says if anyone has the means to take him to St. Maarten, he’ll do whatever it takes to come along to find his son.