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Woman with Chicago ties talks about her family's harrowing journey out of Gaza

Woman with Chicago ties talks about her family's harrowing journey out of Gaza
Woman with Chicago ties talks about her family's harrowing journey out of Gaza 03:02

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For the first time, we are hearing from a woman and her children who spent weeks trapped in war-torn Gaza.

The woman, whose father is a longtime Chicagoan, was among the hundreds able to cross the Gaza border on Thursday. CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot was the only Chicago reporter to talk with the family.

Emilee Rauschenberger spoke to Le Mignot from her hotel room in Cairo, where she and her family arrived at 2 a.m. local time.

Woman with Chicago ties talks about family's harrowing escape out of Gaza 03:47

Rauschenberger, who was born and raised in Bloomington, said adrenaline kept her going as she and her husband worked to get their family to safety.

"It's a very big mix of emotions, and everything seems surreal at the moment," Rauschenberger said.

Rauschenberger said she's grateful she and her family were able to escape war-torn Gaza, but her heart breaks for the family left behind.

"My mother-in-law and all the cousins that have kept my kids sane during this whole thing, all of them are still back in the apartment, struggling for water and for food and no electricity and bombing at night and during the day," Rauschenberger said.

Rauschenberger arrived in Gaza on Aug. 15 to visit her in-laws with her husband, Mohammed Abuhamad, and their five children. That family vacation turned into an extended stay when the war began on Oct. 7.

Rauschenberger took photos of her family, showing her children waiting to board a bus to head to Egypt.

Emilee Rauschenberger and family leave Gaza
Emilee Rauschenberger, her husband, and their five children were finally able to cross from Gaza to Egypt on Nov. 2, 2023, after trying for weeks to get out of Gaza amid the war between Israel and Hamas. Emilee grew up in Illinois but now lives in the United Kingdom with her husband and children. Emilee Rauschenberger

"It was a very chaotic scene," Rauschenberger said. "There were so many people."

A picture was taken as the family drove through the Suez Canal Tunnel and finally, they arrived in Egypt.

"We're very relieved and happy to be out of Gaza," Rauschenberger said. "The stress level has gone down many notches."

Rauschenberger's 10-year-old son, Zaid, spoke about having everyday comforts back again – now that the family is at a hotel in Cairo before their return to the United Kingdom, where they live.

"It's been really nice – the hot shower; finally having electricity; having lights; water," said Zaid. "In Gaza, we had none of those this."

The 10-year-old had been staying in an apartment in Gaza with his family and 30 others. He expressed his gratitude for their hotel stay.

"We are so lucky. The America, the embassy is paying for it because I found out how expensive this was – like $500 – and they're paying for every Palestinian American. So, thank you America," he said.

The next step for the family is securing their flights to the United Kingdom, finally to be back home after an incredible ordeal.

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