The family made it out uninjured but how it happened is a story they can't even believe.
Two sisters and their 87-year-old mother-- reunited in the South Loop. An avocado was the only item they have from their home in Puerto Rico.
Dr. Celia Alvarez says hurricane maria knocked down every tree on her mother's lot.
"I think it's probably the closest I've come to looking at life and death in the face," she said.
For days-- they were cut off from their family in the states.
"The worst thing in the world is waiting to hear from somebody," said Candida Alvarez.
As Celia cared for her mother in Puerto Rico--candida sent text messages and called.
All went unanswered.
Still--she booked two plane tickets for them.
"Friday we were hoping to hear from her," Candida said. "Nobody heard from her."
Then--just hours before the flight was to leave San Juan--the call went through.
"Can you get to the airport right now? Just go," Candida recalled saying to her mother.
As you would expect-- the hugs were tight at ohare on saturday--bringing only the clothes on their back.
"It was a gift," an teary-eyed Celia said. "I'm going to cry now. It was just amazing. We were so worried."
The family--grateful-- knowing so many others have yet to see the miracle they did.
"In my heart I feel for the people I left behind because there are a lot of good people there and they need a lot of help," Celia said.
The family is now working with others in similar situations to pay it forward.