MIAMI — At the international arrival area of Miami International Airport on Wednesday night, the hugs lasted several minutes.
Those hugs were for Natalia Bozhko from her husband and daughter. She had been in Ukraine for the last few months.
"I'm just happy I'm finally together with my family," she said.
She took a 12 1/2 hour flight from Istanbul to Miami to get to the U.S.
It was the final leg of a journey that had her traveling from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv to Slovakia and then Istanbul, Turkey.
"It was by car, by feet, by train, by train again, by car again, something like that," she said.
She made the trip along with her 93-year-old grandfather and a pet cat, navigating her trail and avoiding the attacks from the Russian Army.
"Several times we were evacuated to the basement overnight at the railway station," she said.
Her husband, Dmytro Bozhko, said the hardest part was keeping in contact with her from their apartment in Boca Raton.
"She forgot her charger at home, so we developed a schedule, every two hours she would turn on her phone and we had a small chat," he said.
After reaching Slovakia, Natalia said she was able to place her grandfather in a care facility with fellow Ukrainians.
Exhausted and drained from emotion, she's glad she made it safely to South Florida.
"In order to survive you need to be strong," Natalia said.