(Update: Adding video, comments from Christy Hicks)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — A Bend couple who were in Israel at the end of a cruise when war broke out awakened to the sound of alarms in their Tel Aviv hotel but were able to get to the airport, buy two plane tickets and fly home, shaken yet grateful to be okay.
“They called our names up, and we were able to buy the last two tickets, race to the terminal, get through security and get on the flight,” said Christy Hicks, who with husband Phil Anderson had been on a two-week cruise, starting in Athens and ending in Israel.
At their hotel, she recalled, “We woke up to the alarms sounding and the housekeeping telling us to get down immediately.”
After the initial Hamas surprise attack Saturday morning, the couple decided to head for the airport, arriving to a chaotic scene.
“A lot of us were on the outside of security, so just on that main entrance,” Hicks said. “And everyone was looking around as our flights started getting canceled, one at a time. So then things started picking up, as far as our fear.”
Those fears increased as they realized that Israel’s “Iron Dome” was intercepting Hamas missiles aimed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.
Eventually, the couple was able to get tickets for a flight to Newark.
“Then once we got on the flight, we had to sit on the tarmac for an hour,” she recalled back in Bend, the couple’s home for 20 years. “I think they were waiting to make sure that we weren’t going to get hit by a bomb when we took off. So that was pretty harrowing.”
The couple landed in New Jersey hours later, and got a flight back to Redmond.
“We kind of had PTSD, definitely the whole next day, and shaking,” Hicks said. “It was a lot of adrenaline. But I think today we’re both feeling kind of normal, and a little more settled.”
Still, the couple knows just how fortunate they were to escape harm. According to the U.S. secretary of state, so far at least two-dozen Americans have been killed in the Israel-Palestine conflict.