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The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland [Kindle Edition]

Jim DeFede
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (324 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed."

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community were called upon to come to the aid of more than six thousand displaced travelers.

Roxanne and Clarke Loper were excited to be on their way home from a lengthy and exhausting trip to Kazakhstan, where they had adopted a daughter, when their plane suddenly changed course and they found themselves in Newfoundland. Hannah and Dennis O'Rourke, who had been on vacation in Ireland, were forced to receive updates by telephone on the search for their son Kevin, who was among the firefighters missing at the World Trade Center. George Vitale, a New York state trooper and head of the governor's security detail in New York City who was returning from a trip to Dublin, struggled to locate his sister Patty, who worked in the Twin Towers. A family of Russian immigrants, on their way to the Seattle area to begin a new life, dealt with the uncertainty of conditions in their future home.

The people of Gander were asked to aid and care for these distraught travelers, as well as for thousands more, and their response was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, a fellow law enforcement officer who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers staying at her school put together letters to family members all over the world, which she then faxed. Bonnie Harris, Vi Tucker, and Linda Humby, members of a local animal protection agency, crawled into the jets' cargo holds to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights. Hundreds of people put their names on a list to take passengers into their homes and give them a chance to get cleaned up and relax.

The Day the World Came to Town is a positively heartwarming account of the citizens of Gander and its surrounding communities and the unexpected guests who were welcomed with exemplary kindness.

Editorial Reviews Review

The events of September 11 have seemingly been covered, analyzed, and discussed from every angle imaginable. So the subject matter alone of Jim DeFede's The Day the World Came to Town makes it noteworthy. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 38 commercial airliners carrying over 6,000 passengers were forced, as a precautionary measure, to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. Due to the ongoing closure of U.S. airspace, the passengers spent four days in this isolated town of 10,000 before being allowed to continue on their way. In that time, Gander's residents rallied together to extend a kind of hospitality that seems too expansive for the word hospitality. Townspeople not only opened schools and legion halls for use as emergency shelters, they invited the passengers into their homes for showers, meals, and warm beds while local businesses simply gave toiletries and clothing to passengers stuck without luggage. Despite the grim consequences that led to the situation, DeFede finds humor: two flight attendants are offered a car for sightseeing by a local woman who happened to be driving by; the stranded chairman of Hugo Boss finds himself shopping for men's underwear at the local Wal-Mart. But the real message of the book is how, even in times of great turmoil and conflict, people can and must look to one another for comfort, help, and hope. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Defede calls our attention to a sidelight of the events of September 11, when the town of Gander (pop. 10,000) was overwhelmed by more than 6,500 air travelers grounded when U.S. airspace was shut down. For a week, DeFede relates, the locals provided food, shelter and supplies and reassurance; "they placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked nothing in return." Here the generous Newfoundlanders get due recognition. Photos. (Sept.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 9033 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004T4UNU0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,387 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
106 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes me want to be a 'Newfie' September 17, 2002
It's hard to believe that anything written about the events of September 11, 2001, could be described as `wonderful' but Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede has penned a book that is all that and more.
`The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland' describes what happened when more than 250 aircraft, prohibited from entering U.S. airspace due to the terrorist attacks, were diverted to Canadian airports. Of those, 38 planes bearing 6,595 passengers landed in Gander, Newfoundland, a town with a population of barely 10,000. What happened next goes a very long way to restore the faith in humanity that was shaken by the terrorists. Without exception, the residents of Gander (They call themselves `Newfies') opened their doors to welcome the unexpected refugees and poured out such warmth and compassion that one passenger later remarked, "I was on a flight from London to New York and landed in Heaven."
Schools were closed to provide space for shelters. Residents took the sheets and blankets off their own beds to deliver to the passengers and stayed up all night to feed and welcome then when they finally were able to get off the planes. Locals approached `plane people' in the street and invited them into their homes to shower. Pharmacists made thousands of calls worldwide to verify prescriptions and then filled them for free. Shop owners gave away their stock to those in need and, when they ran out, bought more from the competition and gave that away as well. The events described in this book will make you either proud to be a Canadian or regretful that you aren't.
DeFede skillfully blends the tragic and the comic. One moment Gander's residents are compassionately providing around-the-clock care and companionship to the mother of a missing New York firefighter.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humanity's finest hour ---- kosher kitchen included! December 6, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It took me a while to get around to reading this book, because, by the time it came out, I was over-saturated with 9/11 materials. But this is a very different type of story from those about Ground Zero. When the United States shut down its airspace and diverted all those planes elsewhere, 38 of them ended up in Gander, Newfoundland, a fishing town of about 10,000. The reason was simple: Gander, in spite of its small population today, has an enormous airport. During World War II, American military planes refueled at Gander before heading across the ocean to Europe. Until the invention of the jet engine, Gander was the "biggest gas station in the world," and many planes still stop there to refuel.
Physically, Gander Airport could accommodate all those big planes landing, but what about the passengers? That's the real story of Gander -- how the people opened their hearts and homes to total strangers and mobilized every resource they had to comfort and care for the thousands of travelers who suddenly found themselves stranded. It was humanity's finest hour.
This book abounds with human interest stories, such as: the fire engine racing to the next town with sirens blaring, to bring back toys for the "plane children"; the animal protection volunteers who crawled into the bellies of the grounded planes to rescue and care for the passengers' pets; the American family returning from Kazakhstan with a newly-adopted daughter; the big party for the four kids with birthdays that week... and many, many more.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives you something to feel good about October 6, 2002
By T. King
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Living just 5 miles from Ground Zero I haven't felt the urge to read any of the many books chronicling the events of that horrible day. On a strong recomendation from a friend I picked up THE DAY THE WORLD CAME TO TOWN. Yes this story will bring tears to your eyes but they will quickly be replaced by sheer awe at a community that, without a moment's hesitation, opened its heart and its doors to complete strangers.
If this story was written as ficton one would accuse the author of an overactive imagination. The people of Gander and it's neighboring communities jumped at the chance to render hospitality and comfort to the "plane people", as they referred to them. This story takes the reader through the full range of human emotions from tears to laughter. Yes, laughter. I want to go to GAnder myself and just hug everyone I see.
If you read one September 11th book, make it this one. It provides a lesson we all could learn about being a good neighbor.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different story about 9/11 October 5, 2002
This book uncovers a more or less unknown story of the events of 9/11.
For me personally this story is very true. I was one of the passengers that had to divert to Gander, and as soon as the book arrived, I've read the book within one day. I just could not stop. Never before was I so emotionally touched by a book. Maybe because this book is about "us", who landed in Gander. I don't know. I have learned things from the book, which most of the passengers did not know before. It is just amazing how everything got organized by the citizens of Gander and surrounding communities with the support of the Salvation Army.
Jim DeFede picks a few passengers who were aboard different airliners and re-tells their story. I do have my own story (as probably every passenger who was stranded in Gander), and it is interesting to see how other people lived through the week after 9/11 in Newfoundland.
If you want to know about a different story of 9/11, read this book, and you will be amazed how people were helping complete strangers that were caught in the tragic events.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was an amazing read, a little dicey at fist as it ...
This book was an amazing read, a little dicey at fist as it covered many people, but I soon was able to follow with out issue. Read more
Published 1 hour ago by KashKash
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought I knew this!!
I knew that planes were diverted from the US, but had no idea of how many and what passengers, airline people and those that helped them went through!
Published 16 hours ago by Jane C Trende
5.0 out of 5 stars Feel-good, uplifting read
This is a loving, feel-good book. With all the tragedy in our world, it was so uplifting to read about a community that went above and beyond to help strangers. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Nancy Zawisza
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good book. Enjoyed it.
Published 12 days ago by Karen
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving tribute for 911 and the people of Gander.
A wonderfully poignant story that keeps the memory of 911 alive while giving us some peaceful new memories as well.
Published 20 days ago by Katherine M.
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful story! You will find this book heart-warming
What a wonderful story! You will find this book heart-warming, readable, enjoyable and disturbing. It is a story of the best of mankind at the time of the worst of mankind. Read more
Published 23 days ago by J. C. Chambers
4.0 out of 5 stars Great heartwarming story with sweet antidotes
Great heartwarming story with sweet antidotes. A must read! Only 4 stars not 5 because it wasn't the most well written book.
Published 28 days ago by Personally Yours
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great story telling.
Published 1 month ago by Joe
5.0 out of 5 stars When you need something to lift your spirits, grab this!
I've just finished reading (or rather, devoured) this book for the first time. I had heard about the miracle of Gander, Newfoundland and was so excited to find it at a library... Read more
Published 1 month ago by L. K. Brestovansky
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Interesting narrative about a tragic day in the history of the U.S. Good mix of humour and tragedy. Good read.
Published 1 month ago by Ronel
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