EL CAJON, Calif. – As two explosions rocked the area surrounding the airport in Afghanistan’s capital Thursday, Michael Serban held his breath.
The director of family and community engagement for Cajon Valley Union School District, Serban has been intimately involved in the effort to bring home six local families who were visiting loved ones in Afghanistan and got stranded in the chaos following the Taliban’s takeover there.
As far as Serban had been able to confirm Thursday, none of them were caught up in the bloodshed outside Kabul’s airport, where suicide bombers killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 60 civilians.
“We are concerned,” Serban said, but “to the best of our knowledge, they are okay, as far as we can tell.”
Cajon Valley, which encompasses more than two dozen schools in East County, is home to nearly 500 Afghan students. Trips to see family in the country are commonplace during the summer months. But the Taliban’s swift takeover amid U.S. military withdrawal threw their vacations into a perilous attempt to escape.
As of Thursday, at least two of the families had made it out of the region, said Rep. Darrell Issa, who represents El Cajon and has also been closely involved in the effort to get the students and their parents back safely.
“We can confirm that we still have at least two families that have not made it through checkpoints, and those checkpoints closed two hours early today because of the terror attacks,” the congressman told FOX 5.
He also noted that there could be as many as 70 other San Diegans not related to the East County school district that are still trying to make it home safely.
“While we have made extraordinary progress, there are so many more Americans stranded in Afghanistan,” Issa said. “We have more work to do and under extremely difficult conditions.”