PARIS - A pair of best friends from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, are back home after staying in Paris during the deadly terrorist attacks.
Kati Wilkins, a host for Airbnb, a website for people to rent lodging, won a trip to go to a conference in Paris this week. Since she had never traveled abroad before, she says she invited her best friend, Johanna Munnelly, to come along.
A trip that started with excitement quickly turned to a scary realization on Friday that they were lucky to be alive.
"We were 15 to 20 minutes away from where the actual attacks happened last night, but we had been in the same area just an hour or two hours before it all happened," says Wilkins. "It's frightening and surreal to me."
The women say they had tickets to a show at 8:00 on Friday night after spending a beautiful day exploring.
While they were waiting in line to get their seats, their phones started to go off.
"We couldn't figure out what was going on other than the fact there had been a shooting somewhere in Paris, we just thought it was a small restaurant shooting," says Munnelly.
When the word of one attack turned to several, the women left the show to go back to where they were staying.
"There were so many people there it could have been a nightmare, so we just up and left," says Munnelly. "We got home and have pretty much been here for the entire time since then."
However, at a time when it seemed like it didn't exist, the women say they saw an amazing side of humanity. A North Carolina senator helped them get in touch with the embassy to get home safe. From social media to phone calls, they say they have also had an overwhelming amount of support from their community.
From the locals in Paris, they say they have seen an admirable amount of strength, that will go far in getting the city through this unthinkable tragedy.
"When we were out everyone just seemed very normal, very relaxed, you would never have know anything had happened. They're very strong, they're wonderful people."
While the women are happy to be home, the women say their hearts go out to Paris, and they have no regrets about going on the trip.
"We'd love to go back. This will not keep us from traveling, we're not going to let them win."