New Haven mom reunites with daughter after Hurricane Irma threatens to rip them apart

NEW HAVEN -- It's a busy day for Sandra Pittman.

"Collard greens and yams for Danny Blue, ready in about 30 minutes," says Pittman as she tends to her busy soul food restaurant in New Haven.

It never used to be this busy. She started "Sandra's Next Generation" soul food restaurant nearly thirty years ago. It took a full family effort to pull it off.

Her niece and nephews are servers, her husband and business partner runs the cash register and her daughter, Shandrea helps run the restaurant.

But Shandrea isn't behind the counter today. She's vacationing in St. Maarten for her 33rd birthday.

Everything was going great until she heard about Hurricane Irma. At the time the Irma was a category 5 storm about to touch down on the Caribbean Island

"She said Ma, I'm going to try to get a flight home," said Sandra.  "She tried Friday, she tried Monday and the airlines told her if she don't get one by Tuesday, she's going to have to weather the storm."

Shandrea was unable to find a flight forcing her to prepare for the worst.

She bought groceries and took shelter inside a bathroom in a hotel with the rest of her friends. The storm intensified and eventually filled the bathroom with water making it hard for the group to breath. Time was running out.

"I thought about the 19 hours. I thought about all the odds was against her. You know, water rising, no windows, no ventilation," says Sandra.

Pittman called city and state leaders looking for help. Eventually a call was made to a fire department in St. Maarten. They answered her call and arrived to her daughter's safety within 15 minutes.

"Words can't express how I feel. They let me know tat there's love out there," says Sandra.

Late Sunday night, Shandrea made it back to Sandra and her family at Newark Airport in New Jersey.