State Sen. Iris Martinez stranded on Caribbean island of St. Martin after Hurricane Irma

State Sen. Iris Martinez is stranded on the Caribbean island of St. Martin in the wake of Hurricane Irma and is awaiting rescue, her office said Friday.


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The Chicago Democrat was at the Oyster Bay Beach Resort for a “much-needed days off after this whole mess in Springfield,” administrative assistant Sonia Sanchez said. Martinez’s office had not heard from her since Wednesday before getting a call Friday morning.

John Patterson, a spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, said late Friday afternoon that arrangements were being finalized to have her and others evacuated from the island.

Earlier in the week, Sanchez said Martinez told her office she felt confident the resort was prepared for hurricanes. When she called Friday Martinez “said (the hurricane) was horrible,” Sanchez said.

“I think her biggest fear right now is that … Hurricane Jose is on its way there as well,” Sanchez said, referring to a separate storm approaching the Caribbean. “They’re trying to get these people evacuated before Jose gets there.”

At least five people died on St. Martin, an island split between the Dutch Sint Maarten and French St. Martin. Homes were splintered, schools were destroyed and the cafes and clothing shops of the French seaside village of Marigot were submerged in floodwaters.

Hurricane Irma devastates British Virgin Islands; local family loses home
Authorities reported gunfire amid looting of televisions as well as food and water. Sint Maarten Prime Minister William Marlin said the government anticipates a serious housing shortage and is already fretting over a lost tourist season.

“We foresee a loss of the tourist season because of the damage that was done to hotel properties, the negative publicity that one would have that it’s better to go somewhere else because it’s destroyed — so that will have a serious impact on our economy,” he said in an interview with the Dutch military.

Martinez’s office believes there are 147 Americans at the Oyster Bay resort, which is on the Dutch part of the island, awaiting rescue. There’s supposed to be a private plane airlifting people, Sanchez said, though they don’t know who sent the plane. Martinez didn’t say whether she was injured in any way, Sanchez said.

“I can’t even imagine what must be going through their minds right now,” Sanchez said. “I think the worst part is that, just having lost communication with the rest of the world, that feeling nobody knows we’re here, does anybody know? Is anybody coming?”

Hurricane Irma back to Category 5, will ‘devastate the United States,’ officials warn
The Associated Press contributed.

Twitter @royalpratt

Copyright © 2017, Chicago TribuneSource Chicago Tribune

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