Chicago Should Stand Ready to Welcome Puerto Rican Evacuees

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Op-Ed by Senator Iris Martinez

We have all been shaken by the images of destruction in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, leaving close to 3.5 million American citizens without power, food or water. Many of us have been horrified by the lackluster response from the federal government, even as we fight to do what we can at the state level.

I was heartened to hear that Gov. Bruce Rauner has put the Illinois National Guard on standby to bring aid to Puerto Rico. But with conditions worsening each day, hundreds of Puerto Ricans whose homes and belongings were completely destroyed are fleeing the island daily seeking safety. We must prepare to receive them.

Illinois is home to more than 200,000 Puerto Ricans, many of whom are frantically trying to get friends and family members to safety. With such a broad network of support, Chicago and the state of Illinois is in a good position to welcome evacuees from Puerto Rico, and we must do everything we can to prepare to do so.

Assisting the Puerto Rican evacuees requires a coordinated effort among city officials, non-profits, churches, schools, hospitals, community centers and individuals. In a moving and inspiring show of solidarity, civic organizations have held fundraisers and collected food, water and other much needed supplies. As an elected official, I stand ready to support these organizations in whatever way we can.

Additionally, community groups and churches are working together to organize a medical envoy to Puerto Rico. I, along with some of my Senate colleagues, have reached out to Gov. Rauner and asked for the Illinois National Guard to help the medical professionals reach the island. For information on assistance for victims of Hurricane Maria visit For a list of verified charities and organizations assisting in the relief effort, visit

Comments are closed.