9/11 Miracle

9/11 Miracle

Lauren Alsina

Lizzi Rigolo, Entertainment Editor

On September 11th, 2001, Gander, Newfoundland opened its runways, homes, and hearts to 39 jets carrying 6,900 people.

Many people remember the tragedy and horror that occurred on that fateful day, but few are aware of the miracles, such as this tiny town of 9,651 people becoming a safe haven on just an hour’s notice.

56 minutes after the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, the government declared that all non-military planes were to land immediately, closing American air space for the first time in history. The FAA told all international flights to land in different locations in Canada, one of them being Gander.

Instead of the eight flights that were planned to come into Gander International that day, 38 were landing, each carrying about 200 people. In less than half a day, Gander more than doubled its population.

The people of the town used all their transportation and school busses to moves passengers into schools, churches, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large meeting spaces, trying to find their guests shelter. Finding even that not to be enough room, they opened up their homes.

Luggage was on loc down until it could be searched. Gander opened its stores and let the passengers take whatever they needed without cost. The local grocery stores donated food for the people so that the townsfolk could cook and serve them in the schools and other shelters.

Airspace re-opened on September 13th and as Shirley Brooks Jones, a retired Ohio State Fundraiser, boarded her plane she wondered what she could do for the people of Gander. Many of the stranded passengers had offered the people of Gander money, but they all said, “You would do the same for us,” and refused to take any payment.

On that plane ride, the “Gander Flight 15 Scholarship” was born, a scholarship for the students who attend Lewis Port Collegiate School where many of the passengers spent their nights. On Flight 15 alone fifteen thousand dollars was raised, but as more and more of the passengers from the other flights heard of the scholarship more money was donated.

1.5 million US dollars is the Scholarship account today and this money has so far paid for 134 students to attend universities.

One 80 year-old woman, when she was leaving Gander, stated that when 9/11 occurred she had lost all faith in humanity, but after spending five days in Gander, these people had restored her faith. “There are still good people in our world.”