CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte couple on a mission to help others is now in need of a way to escape hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
The couple's daughter, Yessenia Perez, opened up to Eyewitness News about her efforts to reach them.
Perez said her parents left their home in Charlotte on Sept. 17 and were supposed to fly home Friday, but their flight was canceled and she doesn't know when they'll be able to book another way out.
Native Puerto Ricans and pastors Alcides Perez and Ivonne Rios flew to Puerto Rico to help a church they founded, but days into their trip, Hurricane Maria devastated the island and destroyed their church.
"It was just heartbreaking," Yessenia Perez said.
Perez hasn't spoken to them since the storm hit.
"It's my mom, it's my dad, and I haven't been able to say hi," she said.
But last Sunday, Perez was finally able to breathe. A receptionist at the couple's hotel, Parador El Buen Cafe, drove more than an hour to find service and sent Perez a text message.
"It says good afternoon to the family of Ivonne. Just want to let you know she is OK," Perez said, translating the message from Spanish to English.
And another family friend found her parents and sent a photo of them, alive and well.
"I want them home," Perez said, looking at the photo.
Perez is part of a local group of families with ties to the island called North Carolina for Puerto Rico. They're working to rescue stranded families and are collecting supplies for victims.
Volunteers flew a load of their donations to the island Wednesday. Perez said her parents were supposed to fly back on the return flight.
"Because of the lack of communication, I was not able to get them back on that plane," she said.
And the ticket they booked for Friday was canceled. But Perez is staying busy reaching out to contacts, putting out calls, and sending letters -- trying to find another way to bring her parents home.
Perez is calling local businesses and corporations based in North Carolina and across the country to find a plane to carry supplies from here to the island. She said they'll need three hours on land to unload and to bring people back to any airport in the nation.
"I love my family," she said. "I will do anything, everything in my power."
Eyewitness News reporter Brittney Johnson will have the full report on Yessenia Perez's efforts to get her parents home on Channel 9 starting at 6 p.m.
The Puerto Rican Cultural Society of Charlotte is currently accepting donations for hurricane relief efforts. Click here to learn more on their Facebook page.
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