Nov 21, 2018
As a membership organization, NHCSL prides itself in taking care of its own. This was the case when our former president, Sen. Iris Martínez (IL), was literally in harm’s way after Hurricane Irma devastated the island of Saint Maarten. While on vacation there, I received a call that Senator Martínez literally feared for her life, as the eye of the storm was about to pass through this small Caribbean island. Knowing the danger she was facing, our team immediately coordinated a rescue effort with the office of Senator Dick Durbin (IL), the Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló – and his Washington Representative Carlos Mercader – our Vice President Sen. Carmelo Ríos (PR), our immediate past President Sen. Eduardo Bhatia (PR), Puerto Rico House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, the Illinois Senate President John Cullerton; the US State Department; the French Embassy; Dutch officials; and Senator Martínez’s Chief of Staff, Kerry O’Brien. We were fortunate to be able to arrange a successful evacuation mission for Senator Martínez, the parents of Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA), and hundreds of other refugees who arrived safely in Puerto Rico after a horrible ordeal. Little did we know, however, that this incident would only be the calm before the storm.