Florida woman studying in Israel had to run to bomb shelter as war started

The war in Israel may be over 6,000 miles away, but it’s up close and personal for a family in Melbourne. Their 20-year-old daughter is studying abroad, and now they are trying to get her out of the country as fast as they can.

"I had no idea where she was for hours," said Avery Vadella, Serina Vadella’s mother. "It was just it was terrible; I was crying, it was painful." 

Her daughter Serina is in North Israel studying abroad and was celebrating a regular weekend – and a normal day of Shabbat.

"You’re not meant to be on your phone or technology," she said. But, her friends' phones kept going off with alerts, letting them know about incoming bombs.


"We had just looked at our phones on the red alert and there are dots everywhere. You couldn’t even see the map of Israel," she said. Those dots represent where a rocket or a missile goes off. 

"We’re like this is not real, is this real? We look up on the news, and it’s like 22 dead and Hamas has like declared a war," said Serina. "We heard a jet, and then we heard like a boom, and then we all run into the bomb shelter."

She and her friends had to sleep there.

"My roommate was like, ‘Should we sleep in shifts, should I sleep with my shoes on?’" she recalled.

Meanwhile, her parents were sleeping safe and sound in Florida until they were woken by someone asking if their daughter was OK. Her parents had no idea what was happening until they turned on the news. 

"Oh, my daughters in a war zone," said James, Serina’s father. "Last night we went to bed. She wasn't in the war zone."

Serina is not directly in the area where the surprise attack and fighting has been taking place; she's about 45 minutes away. Though, it's not far enough away to feel completely safe. 

"It’s like really scary to me the idea of traveling right now," she said. She and her parents are doing their best to get her to safety.

"I just want this week to go by, so I know she's on soil that I can trust," her mom said.

Getting a flight out of Israel has been tough, Serina's mom said. There are not many planes flying out of Israel and for the flights that were, tickets were being sold fast.