North Bay woman returns home from Tel Aviv after many flight cancellations

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Thursday, October 19, 2023
Sonoma Co. woman finally returns home from Israel
After a frightening 10 days and several attempts to get to the U.S., Tessa Morgan is finally back home in the Bay Area with her family.

SONOMA, Calif. (KGO) -- Many people from the Bay Area have seen the tragedy and destruction of the Israel-Hamas War firsthand.

Attempts for them to get home have been met with multiple roadblocks, but many from Napa and Sonoma counties have finally made their way back, including Tessa Morgan.

After a frightening 10 days, Morgan is finally back home in the Bay Area with her family.

"(It feels) very surreal. I wasn't supposed to be here right now," Morgan said moments after arriving at SFO. "I was supposed to be going to work in Tel Aviv. That was my reality a week ago."

PREVIOUS STORY: 'Absolutely terrifying': North Bay woman recounts ongoing efforts in trying to leave Israel

The effort to evacuate American citizens trapped in Israel is underway. One Sonoma County resident says the situation has become terrifying.

Morgan, who's from Sonoma, traveled to Tel Aviv 10 months ago with a Jewish youth group and ended up staying to work in an art gallery.

We first spoke with her Saturday while she was still in Israel, sirens and blasts interrupted that first interview, a glimpse of the heartbreaking reality Morgan says many there are experiencing.

"People I know who in the beginning of the conflict, were posting those missing persons flyers," Morgan said, "I just watched them kind of one-by-one turn into funeral announcements."

Morgan said getting back home was far from easy. She said flights were being canceled left and right, and the few that were still flying were almost impossible to book.

MORE: Israel music festival survivor reunited with parents in US: 'I really fought for my life'

"Everyone was scrambling to get on those planes. They were completely full. A couple tickets would pop up, you'd have to refresh the page like every 10 minutes to see if something else will pop up," she said.

She eventually got a flight out of Israel to Portugal where she continued on to SFO.

Morgan wasn't the only one facing those challenges.

At one point in Sonoma County alone, 10 people were trying to leave Israel to return back to the Bay Area.

MORE: Israel at War: Talking to children about violence, war

That's according to North Bay Congressman Mike Thompson, whose office was working to bring people back.

As of Wednesday, he said most have been able to return.

"I talked to my district office staff this afternoon, and everyone who has been working one of these cases reports to me that the people they've been working with, are either home or on their way home," Thompson said.

Still, Morgan and her family said they are not taking her safe return for granted.

"Our hearts are so heavy for the people of Israel," said Tessa's mom, Heather Morgan. "I'm really just hoping that everybody else has the same experience we do and are getting their loved ones home safely. Because we know there's still a lot of people trying to get home to the U.S."

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