Gander, Newfoundland: September 11, 2001

On this anniversary of September 11, 2001, We The People of the USA thank you sincerely,  O Canada,  for your kindness and support of our brothers and sisters in their time of dire need.  From Whitehorse to Gander, your graciousness will never be forgotten.

GANDER, N.L. – Gander International Airport in Newfoundland was once a cosmopolitan crossroads where transatlantic flights carrying everyone from world leaders to Humphrey Bogart touched down to refuel.

Its modernist lounge with geometric flooring and sleek furniture is a trip back to 1959, when the Queen opened it as an avant-garde ode to the glamour of air travel.

But Gander’s global prominence faded when jumbo jets started criss-crossing the Atlantic non-stop. Traffic at the sprawling airfield — a former Second World War staging point — dwindled to cargo planes, military flights, emergency landings and the odd private jet.

Then 9-11 hit.

As terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, closed American air space, 38 passenger planes heading west over the Atlantic with more than 6,500 passengers and crew were diverted to Gander.

10 years after those stranded people first arrived in that international lounge, bone weary and shaken, many returned to visit Gander. Some of them said it was the best detour of their lives, a safe harbour of welcome and warmth amid chaos and shock.

“I’m just going back to tell everybody there: Thank you,” said Monica Burke. The police dispatcher and 911 operator was on her way home to Seattle from Dublin when her flight suddenly headed for Newfoundland, a place she had never seen or planned to visit.

“Everybody in the town put their lives on hold so they could take care of us,” she said of Gander. “We just descended from the sky and landed on their doorsteps.”

Striking school bus drivers laid down their picket signs to drive the unexpected guests around. Pharmacists filled prescriptions for free. Shop owners declined payment. The arena at the Gander Community Centre became a giant walk-in fridge for food donations.

“If you think of the logistics involved, it’s pretty spectacular what they were able to put together,” Burke said of the town — population 10,000 — and nearby communities like Gambo, Lewisporte, Appleton and Norris Arm.

It was about 12 hours on the Gander tarmac before Burke cleared heightened security and was bused, with no access to her checked-in luggage, to the local Royal Canadian Legion where she saw on TV what had happened that day.

“I remember my work supervisor saying: ‘Where are you?’ and I said: ‘Somewhere in Canada.’

“At some point I broke down crying because finally everything hit me. I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know when I was getting home, all this stuff had happened to my country and I was stranded.”

That’s when Gander volunteer Beulah Cooper, who’s as quick with a joke as she is to lend a hand, stepped in.

Burke and two other women stayed at the Cooper home, while about a dozen other passengers who were camped out in schools and community halls came over for showers.

Of all the people she helped during those five non-stop days, Cooper’s heart especially went out to Hannah and Dennis O’Rourke. They had also arrived from Dublin and were desperately awaiting news of their son, Kevin, a 44-year-old New York City firefighter.

“We drove around town a bit and we talked about the duties of a firefighter, as my son was a firefighter at the time,” Cooper said after flipping through albums of photos and thank-you cards.

“But I also realize that Gander’s not New York.”

Dennis O’Rourke says he will always be grateful for how the people of Gander helped him and his wife cope.

“They were just unbelievable the way they treated us up there,” he said from his home in New York. “They fed us, and put us up and if we needed anything, they’d get it for you.

“It reminded me of years ago when I was a kid. You didn’t lock your houses or anything like that. I was just amazed. It was like going back in time.”

Several days after the O’Rourkes returned to New York, their son was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center. He had been trying to rescue people trapped in the north tower.

Gary Tuff was acting manager of safety and security for emergency response services at the Gander airport on 9-11. Officials kept an eye on the burning twin towers on a TV in the emergency control centre, he said.

“Shortly after the buildings collapsed, you could hear all the man-down alarms from the firefighters going off like birds chirping in the background. It sent an eerie thought through us in the firefighting service that know what that will have meant there. Heavy, heavy casualties.”

Air traffic controllers used an aircraft divergence plan from Y2K — the response to computer chaos anticipated on New Year’s Eve 1999 — to smoothly land and park the influx of jets.

Const. Oz Fudge, a Gander police officer, remembers being called to the airport as about 1,000 spectators gathered to watch the big planes coming in.

“There was one after another,” he said. “I’m looking at this and I’m saying: ‘Oh my God. Each one of those planes must have anywhere from 200 to 300 people on-board.’

“I think reality really kicked in at that point.”

Humans weren’t the only passengers that needed care. Bonnie Harris, manager of the Gander animal shelter, worked flat out with staff and volunteers tending to nine dogs and 10 cats, including an epileptic feline, and a cocker spaniel puppy named Ralph who would go on to become an American show champion.

Two rare Bonobo monkeys en route to a zoo in Ohio had their own handler.

Harris and two other women initially crawled through piles of luggage to reach pets held deep in the cargo holds of the planes. Some animals had gone about two days without food or water, she said.

They were moved into an airline holding area where they could be fed and exercised.

Harris’s only regret is that in the mad pace of those days, she forgot to pin notes to the kennels asking owners to let her know their pets arrived safely. Most of the dogs and cats had apparently been shipped on their own, or their owners were on flights diverted elsewhere.

“It would have been nice to have a picture of them with their family,” Harris said.

Like many Gander and area residents, Fudge is bemused if not embarrassed by international reaction to the region’s outpouring of kindness.

“I mean, Newfoundland and Labrador, up through the years, we’ve never had a lot. What we’ve had, we’ve always shared. And I think that’s just the way in which we were brought up.

“When we saw what was happening, we just said: ‘Well, we’ve got to help.’ ”

Fudge is especially touched that Gander received a section of World Trade Center steel, a gift of thanks from the Bethpage Fire Department on Long Island, N.Y.

Gander Mayor Claude Elliott said the steel will be part of a 9-11 memorial at the local North Atlantic Aviation Museum.

It will be a tribute to those who died, and to those who helped the living.

“As the passengers were leaving … many people said that they had lost all faith in mankind,” Elliott recalled. “But they said: ‘After five days here in Gander, you’ve restored that faith in me.’ And I think if there’s one legacy that we’ll be known for, it’s that there are still good people left in the world.”

NOTE: IT SHOULD NOT BE NECESSARY TO SAY SO, HOWEVER: NO COMMENTS ABOUT 9/11 CONSPIRACY THEORIES WILL BE ALLOWED HERE TODAY. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION.

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About WeeWeed

Sarcastic cat herder extraordinaire. And an angel.
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92 Responses to Gander, Newfoundland: September 11, 2001

  1. seabrznsun says:

    And an angel, yes you are WeeWeed.
    There is still lots of love in this old world.

    Liked by 15 people

  2. Thank you for all of this information!

    I’ve never heard of this place and of course US media never runs stories like these about the goodness of your average Joe and Jane Canadian or Joe / Jane American – people helping people in their time or need.

    Liked by 20 people

  3. AmericaFirst says:

    I was not expecting this; between this post and the article about Rick Rescorla you’ve got me crying this morning. The contrast between these actions and the everyday cynicism, snark, anti-Americanism, and just plain hooliganism is needed and appreciated.

    Liked by 31 people

  4. Notmeagain says:

    A good story I’d never heard. My sister-in-law was on one of the last planes out of the US that morning. Did not know about the attack until she landed in Paris. It was still Paris and the French were very supportive. On the way back she went through Chicago and saw a middle-eastern type man wearing American flag theme clothing, trying to avoid backlash. How things have changed in only 16 years.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Beverly says:

      A friend of mine was stranded in Paris. She is Jewish, but she went, blind with tears, to the cathedral to light a candle. Everywhere, the Parisians were so kind to her, she said. She was touched to tears and frantic to get home to NYC: like another friend of mine who’d moved to LA, and he and some fellow New Yorkers, said to heck with this and they rented a car and DROVE back to the city to help, to do something, ANYTHING.

      The City was like a lady whose arm had been torn out of its socket: we were the red and white blood cells racing to the wound, to stanch the bleeding and heal. Really, like one big organism. It was extraordinary.

      I saw the second Tower implode from the roof of my apartment, just 20 blocks north. We had seen the people jumping … My knees buckled and I collapsed to the roof in shock, crying out, “Oh, my God, those poor people, those poor people!” We thought we were seeing the death of 50,000 souls….

      Unreal afterwards, being within the cordon sanitaire that the military put up around the site: I had to show my driver’s license to get onto my home block. There were men in the corner deli from the National Guard with M-16s; fighter jets were zooming overhead. The bridges and tunnels had been CLOSED to all traffic: for the first time in her history, NYC pulled up the drawbridges.

      We wore gas masks in the streets for the first week. There was smoke from the Pile (only the mediots called it Ground Zero) for months: subterranean fires were smoldering until Christmas.

      That Thursday, around 3 am, there was a rumbling great boomer of a thunderstorm that crossed the city. I heard a rolling, deep, basso profundo thunder rumble from horizon to horizon, and jumped out of bed, shouting, “Where is it??? Where IS IT??? They did it AGAIN!!!!” and cursing frantically: then realized it was the thunder. THAT, my friends, was EXACTLY what the imploding skyscrapers sounded/felt like. The next day, the news reported that 911 had gotten frantic calls from around the city, New Yorkers who mistook the thunder for the sound of another imploding skyscraper….

      NEVER FORGIVE, NEVER FORGET.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. 100% YOOPER says:

    Wow, never knew this. Thank you for sharing, made me cry for the kindness shown to strangers.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. bluejean says:

    Newfies are known for their heartiness and hospitality. I was born there in 1960 at the now closed Naval station at Argentia. I would love to return someday to see my birth place again.

    Liked by 10 people

  7. Brett says:

    Remember how unified our nation was…and look at us now.

    Liked by 10 people

    • Liberals pretended to be united only for a very short time after 9/11. They no longer pretend and are in full anti-USA (aka antifa) mode now 24/7/365.

      Like

    • sturmudgeon says:

      Yes, and it is not helping, to see the video’s of people stealing merchandise during ‘Irma’.
      I hope that many sports and entertainment people of color, rise up and strongly and repeatedly condemn these people. To all who have a lousy impression of p.o.c., this just reinforces! SO SAD!

      Like

  8. webgirlpdx says:

    I did not know this either. Thank you for sharing this, Sundance…

    Liked by 3 people

  9. quintrillion says:

    TheConservativeTreehouse.com is not only the Last Refuge for sane information it is the Best Refuge for truth, inspiration, critical thinking and deep, soul replenishing hallelujah revival to recall what is truly important to keep our compasses calibrated.

    Liked by 17 people

  10. georgiafl says:

    September
    One

    As the soot and dirt and ash rained down,
    We became one color.
    As we carried each other down the stairs of the burning building
    We became one class.
    As we lit candles of waiting and hope
    We became one generation.
    As the firefighters and police officers fought their way into the inferno
    We became one gender.
    As we fell to our knees in prayer for strength,
    We became one faith.
    As we whispered or shouted words of encouragement,
    We spoke one language.
    As we gave our blood in lines a mile long,
    We became one body.
    As we mourned together the great loss
    We became one family.
    As we cried tears of grief and loss
    We became one soul.
    As we retell with pride of the sacrifice of heros
    We become one people.

    We are
    One color
    One class
    One generation
    One gender
    One faith
    One language
    One body
    One family
    One soul
    One people

    We are The Power of One.
    We are United.
    We are America.

    Cheryl Sawyer

    II Corinthians 13:11

    Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

    Liked by 16 people

    • Southern Son says:

      I found this surprisingly difficult to read to my wife.
      Thank You ga/fl.
      Profound, is too simple a word to describe the emotions this elicits.

      Liked by 3 people

      • georgiafl says:

        The poem is a bit ‘deist’ ‘theist’ and ‘leftist’ (gender) for me, but the sentiment (unity, not diversity) overcomes the poem’s theological flaws.

        For me, Jesus is LORD.

        Christ Alone is our Salvation.

        In HIS NAME only may we be saved.

        The Bible says GOD says HE is The GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 3:15).

        GOD says, This is MY BELOVED SON, In whom I AM well pleased. Hear HIM! (Luke 9:35)

        Liked by 8 people

        • georgiafl says:

          I would substitute agenda, mission or intention for the PC (Punitive Conformity) propaganda term ‘gender’.

          Liked by 3 people

        • Kroesus says:

          I have always taken God’s gender as generic in the same fashion as mankind is referred to as MEN in the KJV……it is His inspired word so He prefers to be called in this fashion but God has no need for gender as it is his construct for reproduction….I find no offense in the suggestion however other than the selfish attempt of one to own God in a fashion by assigning attributes to Him He has not given Himself…..it is the same when some try to give God a certain race when races are the product of the three sons of Noah and their intermixing

          Like

          • georgiafl says:

            GOD is humanity’s and creations’ Father, Creator, Judge, even Husband (Isaiah 54:5) and says He is supreme over animate creatures – humans, animals and ideologies/agendas/movements/nations and over creation (inanimate – sun, moon, planets, weather, elements, chemistry) (Psalm 46:10).

            The Bible is source of GOD’s view and image of Himself.

            Liked by 2 people

  11. tonyE says:

    Most Canadians are pretty good people… solid, boring, -OK- but very trustworthy. A good neighbor to have, not just as a country, but as a real next door neighbor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dekester says:

      Hey,

      Boring! Your national sport is Boringball, aka baseball.

      I know what you mean, I emigrated to Canada from Scotland and found Canadians to be boring too. The only ones worse were them Yanks.😉

      We are heading down to Palm Springs for a bit. Now that place is boring.

      Nice weather, and golf courses though.

      God bless PDJT.

      Liked by 6 people

      • Deb says:

        I grew up in a rural area next to Canada too. Some would call it “boring,” but we always managed to make some fun. The salt of the earth types who live on both sides of the border will give you the shirt off their backs. God bless you Dekester, and God bless Canada!

        Liked by 4 people

        • dekester says:

          Cheers Deb.

          Liked by 2 people

          • thluckyone says:

            Dekester, I’m SO GLAD you got to read the beautiful post from Wee Weed.That’s how I think of you and my other precious Canadian friends. THANK YOU for putting up with us! THANK YOU for being our BESTEST neighbor. We love you,dekester! And we love Canada! May we be FOREVER GREAT neighbors!

            Liked by 3 people

            • dekester says:

              Thluckyone, Very kind thank you.

              I feel somewhat saddened this evening, We are settled in Palm Sproings for the week.

              We just read Sundances Post and felt impotent. Here we flew down from B.C. for a “wee holiday” and are loafing around. Sundance who has given me so much, is battling the elements, and still giving.

              If PayPal is the only way to contribute a little something we will. However we dislike electronic transactions as such, so if there is another way. Please we are all ears.

              Thank you all.

              Liked by 1 person

      • Sylvia Avery says:

        My husband and I were in Victoria for several days following 9/11. The reservations had been made in advance. We were uneasy about going, weren’t sure what to expect crossing the border. Just generally on edge about being out of the country.

        I’ll never forget Canadians’ kindness then. Everywhere there were expressions of love and sympathy and support.

        Liked by 3 people

        • dekester says:

          S.A. Small world, I was in Victoria last week and know the area well. Bet you attended Butchart Gardens.

          Glad you enjoyed the trip. If any CTH supporter can swing it Victoria and Vancouver Island may suit them for a safe, and interesting holiday.

          God bless PDJT

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sylvia Avery says:

            I highly recommend it! Yes, we did Butchart Gardens and the Empress and all sorts of stuff. We had a beautiful spot we stayed up north on the coast of Vancouver Island. I love Victoria. So beautiful.

            My mom’s parents immigrated from Canada when they were young, and I had an uncle in BC. When I was a kid we made many day trips over the border to White Rock, Surrey, and Victoria and Vancouver.

            Like

  12. Patriot1783 says:

    “Shortly after the buildings collapsed, you could hear all the man-down alarms from the firefighters going off like birds chirping in the background.”

    I remember that noise and the glow of the reflective stripes on the living firefighters, police and other rescue operatives all scrambling in response of the noise in hopes of saving whoever was under the debris.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Deb says:

      There was a pocket of survivors who miraculously survived the collapse of the North Tower. Part of one of the staircases sheltered them during the collapse and stayed amazingly in tact under the rubble. Fourteen people were rescued.

      Liked by 9 people

  13. MfM says:

    Every year I find out something else that happened around September 11th. This article and youtube clip is from Britain where the Queen broke tradition to have the US National Anthem played.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1340465/Palace-breaks-with-tradition-in-musical-tribute.html

    Short clip of the event:

    Liked by 11 people

  14. Tani Valentine says:

    Canada…. always been a real friend….and now, to learn of this herioc period of time from 2001 is truly amazing!
    Thank you Sooooo dearly, Newfoundland, for your love, caring and compassion for all those confused, befuddled, and hurt airline passengers from America!

    Liked by 7 people

  15. Bronish says:

    I didn’t mean hurt as in physically….but emotionally rumpled….
    Looks like my comment didn’t show up here anyway, so, nevermind.

    Like

  16. WeeWeed says:

    Here’s a current article on Gander,

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/09/08/gander-newfoundland-september-11-terror-attacks-kindess-come-from-away/631329001/

    and there’s a book about that day, too – “The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland.”

    Liked by 11 people

    • aqua says:

      The Day The World Came to Town — I read this book in one sitting as soon as it came out, could not put it down. Life had to wait that day.

      9/11 was such a scary day, watching what was happening after that first attack. Waiting for word from close family, driving all over God’s country to get them after hours of no word (NJ, in this case).

      Watching the map of the planes still flying to see if more attacks were coming, and finally, when all had landed. Then hearing that Gander had taken in all those people, opened their hearts, trusting -not even knowing if there would be potential trouble ahead for them.

      Of course I had to read that book.
      Thank you, Ganderers!!

      Liked by 5 people

    • Blue Ridge Mts Va says:

      Always loved this story about Gander. Thanks for revisiting.

      Like

  17. Newfoundland; Island with St. Johns Gulf Stream at one end, and frozen air Port aux Basques at the other, 900 miles of moose roam between.
    Directions always conclude with, ”around the bay.” Each inlet harbors a quaint fishing village, until the progressive Ottawa gents forbid a single cast to feed one’s family. Canada kissed up to global control of fisheries by threatening all Newfies into ward of the state conditioning.
    Marconi used it as the most eastern spot to send the first wireless across the ocean.
    The people are friendly and sell self-depreciating humor as a tourist attraction.
    I visited under all conditions and once saw a snowstorm so deep at Gander they had to break through their house roofs to get out and see the sky.

    Liked by 7 people

    • dekester says:

      Newfoundland did not become a part of Canada until 1947. They were conned into joining Confederation IMO.

      Newfies as they are affectionately known, are by and large the ” salt of the earth”

      Liked by 4 people

  18. I am a Canadian and grateful to have discovered this website and all the posters/readers here. This is a beautiful piece and I sent it to my liberal progressive Father in Law who is from Newfoundland. On the afternoon of 9-11 I was in the Canadian Armed Forces recruiting office trying to enlist even though in the end I did not. It felt like an attack on us all. I am very thankful that our American friends and neighbours have a great leader and President. God Bless you all!!! God Bless the U.S.A.

    Liked by 16 people

  19. maiingankwe says:

    I’m sorry I can’t remember which Treeper posted or even how long ago, but they had posted an amazing story from one of the American stewardess, which had been on one of the 37 planes.

    It was an amazing story, and I remember many of us here had never even been made aware of it. I am so hoping the wonderful Treeper who had posted it will do so again, or if anyone else is familiar with it and knows how to find it, it would be great too.
    Be well good Treepers,
    Ma’iingankwe

    Liked by 3 people

    • WeeWeed says:

      Was it this one, Mai?

      Liked by 1 person

    • stella says:

      There was an email going around about it just after it happened, supposedly by a stewardess. Here it is:

      Here is an amazing story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11-2001.

      “On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic. All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”

      “No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, New Foundland. He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately–no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.

      “While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.

      “We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, New Foundland to have it checked out.

      “We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM! …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.

      “There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the U.S. After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.” Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the U.S. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.

      “The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the aircrafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were U.S. commercial jets.

      “Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada. Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

      “Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

      “We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

      “Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing. Moreover, they were true to their word. Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

      “About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

      “After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander! We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the U.S. airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

      “We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

      “Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.

      “Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days. What we found out was incredible.

      “Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometre radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

      “ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.” Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometres from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

      “Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

      “Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbours. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests. Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.
      “Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully. It was absolutely incredible.

      “When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling. Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

      “And then a very unusual thing happened. One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. However, this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

      “He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

      “The gentleman, a MD from Virginia, promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well. As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

      “I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a far away place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them. It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”

      Liked by 14 people

  20. Maggie says:

    There is also another Gander/US historical connection.

    Dec 12/1985, when the 101st Airborne ‘plane crashed killing 248 people on their way home for Christmas after serving as peace keepers in the Sinai.

    This older link gives some info regarding official story and unofficial story – sounds depressingly familiar??

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Minnie says:

    WeeWeed, thank you so much for posting this information.

    I (along with many others) was totally unaware of the gracious generosity of the Gander community toward those directly/indirectly affected by the terrorist actions on 9/11.

    We lost loved ones, others in our community lost loved ones, strangers we cannot name lost loved ones.

    The horror of it plagues us and cannot be understated.

    However, the amount of love, compassion and grace we humans offer each other should also never be underestimated.

    Thank you for giving a ray of hope on this difficult day, for renewed faith in humanity. My circle of prayers now include all those from Gander who helped in ways known and unknown.

    God bless us, everyone.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. WeStillRemember says:

    Here’s another amazing Gander story from the midst of that chaos as well:
    https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/09/11/love_bloomed_in_newfoundland_after_911.html

    Liked by 4 people

  23. dazz13 says:

    …and we’d do it again in a heartbeat. maybe you folks don’t realize it, but we Canadians really do love our brothers and sisters south of our border!

    Liked by 7 people

  24. Niagara Frontier says:

    What a wonderful post and accompanying picture with the two flags. Prominent on my wall is a beautiful picture of the Canadian and U.S. flags joined together with a Cross. Below the flags and Cross is the title “United We Stand.”

    Below that is the quote from 2 Chronicles 7:14 — If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will forgive their sins and heal their lands!

    I know Treepers here sometimes like to pick on the Canadians and their leadership. But as someone who lives on the border with practically one foot in each place, I know for certain that if there ever comes a time we need to call on other nations for urgent assistance, Canada will not even need to be asked. They will be there. They will always be our most trusted ally and friend. We cannot afford to lose that.

    Liked by 5 people

  25. Janie M. says:

    Those grateful 9/11 passengers stranded in Gander reciprocated by raising college funds for the children of families in Gander. I had read this story earlier on another site a while back but this article is equally good:

    9/11 Passengers Raise Scholarship Funds for Canadian Host
    SEPTEMBER 10, 2011 | TREVOR WILLIAMS
    [snip]
    Ten years after 9/11, Shirley Brooks-Jones remembers not only the tragic event, but also the incredible hospitality of the people of Lewisporte, Canada – a small town that was overwhelmed by travelers when the terrorist attack closed American airspace.

    When 38 planes were diverted to Gander International Airport on the Island of Newfoundland and the population of the area nearly doubled, the residents of nearby Lewisporte opened their doors to the passengers, providing them with clothing, housing, showers and much-needed comfort.

    “They cared for us in so many different ways, but they did it in such a marvelous way. They didn’t hover over you … they just seemed to be very perceptive about what the different people needed,” said Ms. Brooks-Jones, who was an administrator at Ohio State University and started the Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship Fund, to send high-schoolers from the area to college.

    The fund now has $1.5 million in donations and has helped send 134 students to universities or trade schools.

    http://www.globalatlanta.com/911-passengers-raise-scholarship-funds-for-canadian-host/

    Liked by 7 people

  26. Kalena says:

    I love Canada, my state’s neighbor. We share the Great Lakes with them. I remember when their embassy in Tehran saved American lives. We have the best country border neighbors in the world. Right, eh?

    Liked by 7 people

  27. sunflower lady says:

    Thank you for posting this. Very touching, I never heard about this before.

    Sounds like I need to add Gander to my places to visit list. Good people.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. b4im2old says:

    Thank you for sharing Wee weed! I had never heard about this! And a belated thank you to the wonderful Canadian neighbors in Gander, Newfoundland and nearby towns! Amazing! Brings tears to my eyes and restores (some) faith in mankind! Much of our society has fallen so far in the years since. I’m sharing this (and the Rick Rescorla article) with everyone I know in the hope of restoring even a little bit of our lost moral compass!

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Alison says:

    I, too, read “The Day the World Came to Town” when I stumbled across it at the library. I highly recommend it !

    Not only were many of us unaware of the role Gander & surrounding communities played, but unless you read the book, you are also unaware of the mix of Americans & foreigners on those flights, all being communally sheltered by Canadian angels.

    In addition to documenting the herculean efforts of the Gander residents, the book gives a very realistic portrayal of the discomfort of the long wait on the tarmac upon arrival as well as the varied human reactions & behaviors while passengers waited days to return to their destinations. As in any emergency, there were miscommunications, changed directives, & even the possibility of some grounded planes being told they would have to return to their original departure locale – overseas – rather than to their hoped-for US destination.

    I cannot help but correlate my memory of this tale to the missives we’ve received from Sundance as he continues his mission during Hurricane Irma. Constant adaptation to Irma’s evolving path, frustration at the lack of gas, most likely a mix of admiration and shaking his head at choices his fellow humans are making … humans in all our earthly patterns.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Youtube has a number of pieces on the Gander situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Sylvia Avery says:

    Thank you for posting this wonderful story. I had not heard of Gander or what its people did for us on September 11.

    The pain, the fear, the ugliness that has been a steady diet for so long now has receded a little bit. Much of it was washed away in the floods of Harvey or blown away by Irma’s winds, and now some healing by reading about Gander.

    For however long it lasts, it is such a welcome respite to see repeated instances of God’s love expressed through individuals helping each other. Our country needed this reminder. I needed this reminder.

    “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

    Liked by 1 person

  32. ATP says:

    “Air traffic controllers used an aircraft divergence plan from Y2K….. to smoothly land and park the influx of jets.

    Oh dear, more popular delusion.
    ATC don’t “divert” aircraft anywhere, the pilot in command decides where he’s going and what he’s doing, he tells ATC who then provide a clearance and separation from other traffic. ATC ‘s value is in relaying information, say, on the availability of hard stand parking that might limit the availability of alternates.

    ATC don’t “direct” airline aircraft to go anywhere, that is a decision above their pay grade. Their job is to provide information and separation. Thats’s all.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. daughnworks247 says:

    God Bless the Newfies!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Ziiggii says:

    I love reading this story every year!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. jeans2nd says:

    Unknown to everyone except we locals, CAK also had visitors similar to those at Gander.
    As we stood in our plant parking lot watching the (yes, black) helicopters circle, Son was on his cell to me standing on the university’s roof, watching those humongous planes fast-land every couple three minutes at CAK. CLE was closed as CLE was the last contact for the PA plane that crashed.

    No one speaks of it. Few even know. But, it happened.
    Thank you Gander and Canada for taking care of us when we really really needed it.
    Thank you, WW, for the remembrance.

    Like

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