Seven Thousand Visitors Fell From The Sky

 September 11 - New York City - Two planes bring down the Twin Towers. Panic and disorder engulf Canada and the US.  Air space above both countries is shut down and all active flights are ordered to the ground.

WHERE I LIVE ......September 11 - Gander, Newfoundland - Canada - Home of Gander International Airport.  A mile or so away sits the Town of Gander. Population - twelve to fifteen thousand people. One hospital, one small, Canadian Air Force base, two shopping malls, five or six school ... you know know... the usual small town. Did I mention hotel rooms ? No, I didn't.

The town had a hotel room count of maybe 500 or so rooms - with some of them obviously occupied at the time. Little did the residents of Gander know, but by noon that day, - Sept 11 -  7000 or more visitors, from all over the world, would be dropping from the sky onto the tarmac just outside of town. Nobody knew, not even the visitors, that the duration of the visit would be - not hours .....but DAYS ! Five hundred hotel rooms ......seven thousand or more visitors ! That works out to fourteen persons per room ..... for a week ????  I don't see that happening.

How did the Town of Gander, Newfoundland deal with this ?

I'll let you do your own homework on that question - but I will tell you this. By the end of the day, the visitors were comfortable ( or  as comfortable as could be considering their plight) and everybody had a place to sleep. Everyone was provided with  any and everything needed to make them feel at home. They were fed, showered, given phone and internet facilities, clothing, and most other required supplies. No fee was ever charged - not a dime - not for anything. Lifetime friendships were forged.

This truly is an amazing story of human kindness and compassion. What you've read here is only the tip of the iceberg  in this story of the people of the Town of Gander ( and surrounding  communities) and the kindness they showed durinng those days that changed the world. I was there .

Author Jim DeFede tells the story accurately. His book, which I've recently bought and read, is a "spot on" account of this story. It's a great read.
" The Day The World Came To Town" .

TheFriendlyGiant TheFriendlyGiant
51-55, M
May 9, 2012