In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, thousands of families have missing relatives in the Philippines, including people in North Texas.
Kristal Abalos Bierra, of Bedford, said she received word after speaking with NBC 5 on Wednesday that her family is safe.
BIerra was born and raised in Tanauan, a town next to the city of Tacloban, one of the hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan. She had been searching for more than 20 members of her family, including the aunt who adopted Bierra when she was just 8 months old.
"Some people think, 'OK, it's the Philippines.' I always think that -- 'OK, it's the Philippines. It's far away.' But this, this is my family," she said.
Before learning they were safe, Bierra last heard from her aunt, Lorna Abalos, two days before the typhoon hit. Her aunt had sent a message wishing her a happy birthday.
"Happy birthday. How are you? Hopefully, you're always happy," Bierra read off her phone. "Happy birthday again. We miss you and we love you."
Bierra told NBC 5 her relatives told her they had to walk to another island after the typhoon hit and have barely had any water or food in four days. But all of them are alive, she said.
She had feared for her family's safety, especially after recently seeing a picture online of her hometown in which nearly every building was damaged or destroyed.
"I couldn't help but break down and cry, because I know how close my family is from the bay, really two miles from the bay, so if the wave was 15 feet high like they said, I know our house would've been washed out," she said.