SOURCE: Debra Gordon in Family Circle.“Strength in Numbers.” Readers Digest. September 2002KEYWORDS: hospitality, unity, kindness, outreach, gratitude
On September 11, Lloyd George was ending a Salvation Army meeting in Lewisporte, Newfoundland when his cell phone rang. Hanging up, he told his committee: “There’s been an emergency in the States. They need our town.” Thirty-eight U.S.-bound planes with 6595 passengers and crew had been diverted to a nearby airport.
Lewisporte (pop 4000) threw open its schools, churches and social clubs to take as many as they could. Mayor Bill Hooper had all the temporary shelters wired with extra phone lines and cable TV. Townspeople delivered bedding, underwear and pajamas, and served hot meals three times a day. Doctors and nurses went on 24-hour call; pharmacies filled prescriptions for free. In the evening, the Newfoundlanders entertained their guests with folk songs, poems, karaoke.
Recalls one passenger, “Short of being home, we were in the best place I can imagine at a terrible time. We felt safe, cared for, welcomed.”
When flights finally began ferrying people home, grateful passengers pledged to start a college fund for Lewisporte students. By July 2002 the figure had reached $50,000.