Cover image for The day the world came to town : 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland
The day the world came to town : 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland
DeFede, Jim.
Personal Author:
1st pbk ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Regan Books, 2003.
Physical Description:
x, 244 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
General Note:
A hardcover edition of this book was published in 2002 by ReganBooks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Shares the experiences of the citizens of Gander, Newfoundland, who were hosts to the more than six thousand passengers of thirty-eight U.S.-bound jetliners forced to land there in the wake of the September 11th attacks.


Call Number
Material Type
Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 971.8 DEF Adult Paperback NonFiction Book
Fillmore - Wide Awake Club Library 1 971.8 DEF New NonFiction Book
Hammondsport - Fred and Harriett Taylor Memorial Library 1 971.8 DEF Adult Paperback NonFiction Book
Wayland Free Library 1 971.8 DEF Adult NonFiction Book

On Order



The True Story Behind the Events on 9/11 that Inspired Broadway's Smash Hit Musical Come from Away

When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000. The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an overwhelming display of friendship and goodwill.

As the passengers stepped from the airplanes, exhausted, hungry and distraught after being held on board for nearly 24 hours while security checked all of the baggage, they were greeted with a feast prepared by the townspeople. Local bus drivers who had been on strike came off the picket lines to transport the passengers to the various shelters set up in local schools and churches. Linens and toiletries were bought and donated. A middle school provided showers, as well as access to computers, email, and televisions, allowing the passengers to stay in touch with family and follow the news.

Over the course of those four days, many of the passengers developed friendships with Gander residents that they expect to last a lifetime. As a show of thanks, scholarship funds for the children of Gander have been formed and donations have been made to provide new computers for the schools. This book recounts the inspiring story of the residents of Gander, Canada, whose acts of kindness have touched the lives of thousands of people and been an example of humanity and goodwill.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

On September 11, 2001, 38 jetliners bound for the U.S. were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Newfoundland after the terrorists' attack resulted in the closing of all American airspace. The planes carried 6,595 passengers and crew members; Gander's population is barely 10,000. This book is the story of how the people of Gander and the surrounding smaller towns worked around the clock for the next six days to help these stranded travelers. They prepared meals and--in some cases--took strangers into their homes. The Red Cross collected linens and toiletries for the passengers who had no access to their suitcases. A local brewery offered free samples of beer, animals on the planes were cared for in a vacant hanger, kosher meals were provided for a rabbi, and a volunteer taxi service helped passengers get around town. Readers could do without all the stilted dialogue that DeFede has created to move the story along, but the book nevertheless is an engaging account of these copious acts of kindness. --George Cohen

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Through selective interviews, this book describes events surrounding the 6595 people on board 38 planes whose transit across the Atlantic was disrupted when they were vectored to the airport in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001. As a chronicle of the heartwarming reception these passengers received from touchdown until departure six days later, the volume resounds with tributes to the kindness and acts of generosity on the part of local residents (population 10,000). Quick-thinking initiatives led by the mayor, constable, air-traffic controllers, and local heads of professional disaster-relief agencies organized a process for greeting deplaning passengers; checking luggage; fulfilling immigration/security requirements; and then transporting groups to churches, schools, and community centers where they were housed and fed. One account tells of volunteers from Gander's SPCA who crawled through the cargo spaces of the jetliners, locating pets and animals in cages, and bringing them food, water, and fresh bedding until they could be moved to a vacant hangar. Separate vignettes focus on the parents of a New York City firefighter who was missing, on a Texas couple returning from adopting an orphan in Kazakhstan, on a teenage cancer victim en route home following a "make- a-wish" trip to Italy, and more. Each of these stories will resonate with teens.-Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Roxanne and Clark Loper were homeward bound. Nearly three weeks had passed since they left their ranch outside the small Texas town of Alto and embarked on a journey to adopt a two-year-old girl in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan. It was a journey more than fifteen months in the planning and saw the young couple race through airports, bounce along bumpy roads, and wind their way across the Ural Mountains. They dealt with bureaucrats in three different countries and spent their life savings, all for the sake of a child whose picture Roxanne had seen one day on the Internet. Every minute, every dollar, was worth it, though, because now they had Alexandria, and by dinnertime they'd be home. Over the last seventy-two hours, the three of them had flown from Kazakhstan to Moscow to Frankfurt and were now on the final leg of their trip, a direct flight from Frankfurt to Dallas. They all felt as if they hadn't slept in days. Shortly after takeoff, Alexandria climbed out of her seat and curled up on the floor to take a nap. Roxanne thought about picking her up and strapping her back into her seat, but she knew Alexandria liked sleeping on the floor. She felt comfortable there. It was something the child had grown accustomed to in the orphanage. As the Lopers' plane, Lufthansa Flight 438, proceeded northwest out of Frankfurt and climbed to above 30,000 feet, Lufthansa Flight 400 began preboarding its first-class passengers. Settling into her seat, Frankfurt mayor Petra Roth was excited about her trip to New York. That night there would be a party in honor of New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Roth and Giuliani had become friends during official visits to each other's city, and Roth was happy to travel the 4,000 miles to pay her respects to the outgoing mayor. Sitting near Roth was Werner Baldessarini, the chairman of Hugo Boss, who was flying to New York from the company's corporate headquarters in Germany for Fashion Week - an eight-day spectacle of clothes and models in which more than one hundred of the world's top designers show their latest wares in giant tents and on improvised runways. A good show at Fashion Week can guarantee the success of a manufacturer's collection. On Thursday evening, Baldessarini would premier Hugo Boss's Spring 2002 line at Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan. In addition to the financial implications of having a good show, this event was also important to Baldessarini for personal reasons. After twenty-seven years with Hugo Boss, he had made up his mind to retire in 2002. The news hadn't been leaked publicly, but this would be one of his last shows and he wanted it to be a success. While a flight attendant offered Roth and Baldessarini a glass of champagne before takeoff in Frankfurt, a few hundred miles away in Dublin, George Vitale was taking his seat in coach aboard Continental Flight 23. As one of the people responsible for protecting New York governor George Pataki on a day-to-day basis, Vitale had flown to Ireland in early September to make advance security arrangements for the governor's visit there later that month. Unfortunately, a fresh round of violence in Northern Ireland caused the governor to abruptly cancel his trip, and the New York State trooper was told to come home. If he had wanted to, Vitale could have stayed in Ireland to see friends and family. The forty-three-year-old is half Irish and he's made several trips over the years to the Emerald Isle. This wasn't a good time for a vacation, however. He had a number of responsibilities waiting for him at home in Brooklyn. In addition to being a senior investigator with the state police, Vitale was also taking night classes toward a degree in education. Assuming everything went smoothly, he'd be home in time for his class at Brooklyn College. An hour after Vitale's flight ascended into the sky, Hannah O'Rourke stood outside the boarding area for Aer Lingus Flight 105 and cried as she hugged brothers and sisters good-bye. The sixty-six-year-old O'Rourke was born in Ireland's County Monaghan, about forty miles north of Dublin, but had emigrated to the United States nearly fifty years ago. She made a good life for herself in America. Along with her husband, Dennis, she raised three children and now lived on Long Island. In recent years, she'd returned to Ireland as often as possible to see her family. This time around, she spent three weeks in the countryside with her husband. She hated saying good-bye to her kin, but her family in America was eager for her to come home. Waiting to board the plane, O'Rourke dreaded the flight back. It was no secret she hated flying, especially over water. The scene was no less emotional for fellow passenger Maria O'Driscoll. Although the two women didn't know each other, the seventy-year-old O'Driscoll was born in County Louth, a stone's throw from O'Rourke's birthplace. O'Driscoll had come to the United States when she was a young woman. Her reason was simple: "I fell in love with a Yank." That was back in 1954. Standing alongside her at the airport in Dublin was her husband, Lenny. Lenny O'Driscoll wasn't "the Yank" that prompted Maria to move to America. That fellow, Maria's first husband, died in 1987. When Lenny met Maria a short time later, he, too, had lost a spouse. They married in 1993, and since then, they had been over to Ireland almost every year. The occasion for this trip - not that they ever needed one - was the wedding of Maria's niece. Of her six brothers and sisters, Maria had been the only one to come to America... (Continues...) Excerpted from The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede Copyright © 2003 by Jim DeFede Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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