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kilometer radius
school buses
human suffering
square meals
emergency shelters
The Hospitality Of Newfoundlanders
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Among all the bad news that you see on t.v. and the newspapers, once in a while a story filled with kindness, and genuine hospitality gives you hope for humanity. The irony of this story is that it sprung from a story of great tragedy and human suffering.

On 9-11-01 terrorists attacked the World Trade Center using commercial airliners. U. S. airspace abruptly shut down. The Trans-Atlantic flights were diverted to Canadian airports. One of those airports was Gander International in Newfoundland. This airport was an ideal airport for "heavies" to land because of it's two large airstrips.

In all, 39 heavies landed there. A total of 53 airplanes from all over the world made emergency landings at Gander. All told, the Red Cross processed a total of 10,500 stranded passengers and crew members. Gander's population is 10,400.

The passengers on all these flights were not allowed to deplane right away. For security reasons, the passengers and crew members stayed onboard until they passed the screening process. It was a long drawn out process and many of them had to stay onboard up to 23 hours.

Once off the planes the passengers boarded school buses and driven to shelters in Gander and other surrounding towns within a 75 kilometer radius. At the time of this incident the school bus drivers were on strike, walking their picket lines. They stop picketing and help shuttle the passengers to shelters.

High schools, meeting halls, lodges, churches, and any other large gathering places became emergency shelters. The residents provided all the basic necessities such as cots, sleeping bags, toothbrushes, three square meals. Pharmacists provided free medications. There were dentists on call and both male and female nurses available.

Elderly passengers stayed at residents homes for the duration.

Many passengers tried using their cellphones, but because of Canada's different cellphone system, were unable to contact their love ones. The telephone company set up telephone banks so these stranded passengers could make their contacts. Internet service was also provided, which helped the passengers understand what happened on 9-11 in New York and at the Pentagon.

The residents also provided boat cruises to lakes and harbors for those wishing to go sightseeing. Those choosing to eat at the local eateries rode the school buses.

The Red Cross was amazing. They knew exactly which group had to go back to the airport and at what time. They were truly remarkable. Every single passenger made their flight.

Passengers on Delta 15, heading to Atlanta, Georgia, were so touched by the people of Lewisporte that they took up a collection to raise money for a college scholarship fund for the high school kids of Lewisporte.

When a passenger asked a Gander resident why she opened up her home to them, her reply was........."This is nothing out of the ordinary. This is the way everybody is."


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