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Local Families Desperate To Help Loved Ones Trapped In Afghanistan: 'They Are Refugees In Their Own Country'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As unrest grows in Afghanistan, the world is getting a better idea of what some local families are going through during this chaotic time, with their loved ones trapped abroad.

Over the years, countless Afghans have escaped the country for a better life, many of them living in the United States.

"I was shocked, devastated, terrified when the Taliban took over," Great Neck resident Latifa Woodhouse told CBS2's John Dias. "I have shed a lot of tears. I have had many, many sleepless nights."

"They are refugees in their own country, and that is very, very horrifying," she added.

The Great Neck mother is safe on Long Island and has lived in the U.S. for over 30 years, but her cousins, her brother, who worked as a translator for the U.S. government, and his family are not.

"I fear for my brother's life, because they are still hiding in the basement of their house," Woodhouse said. "They were starving. All they had was some bread and water in the basement they were living for a week."

She won't share her brother's name to protect him, but said he's trapped.

"My brother is in Kandahar, and they're all checkpoints between Kandahar and Kabul, the roads are all closed. And he cannot take the chance, and I don't want him to take the chance, with six young kids -- his oldest is 14, his youngest is 2 -- and his wife to go to Kabul," she said.

Woodhouse is originally from Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. She said she supports President Joe Biden, but is disappointed, because she thinks he pulled out of the country too fast.

"I thought 20 years of U.S. being there, it is time to get out of Afghanistan," she said. "Soldiers just left, and I hope there would have been a master plan, but there was no plans whatsoever."

She thinks the U.S. needs to do more to evacuate Americans and allies.

"Give all of those people who have worked with the United States government ... visas and get them out as soon as possible," she said.

As the Taliban takes control, Woodhouse worries about the progress the country made, especially for women and young girls.

"It has already evaporated, I am 100% sure," she said. "There are many, many intelligent, amazing women that could turn this country around, and it was almost going to."

Woodhouse and her husband, a former Peace Corps volunteer, founded the nonprofit Share Humanity USA, which helps people forcibly displace by war, persecution and economic deprivation. Right now, they are raising money to provide food, shelter, diapers and baby formula to those living in Afghanistan.

She said the cost of those items have gone up significantly because of the unrest.

Click here for more on how to help women and girls in Afghanistan.

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