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Fort Frances shaken by terrorism in U.S.

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They shook New York, they shook the U.S., they shook the world. The acts of terrorism, which included the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City yesterday morning, also have shaken local residents.

Residents here rushed to check on relatives and friends travelling in, or living in, the States as newscasts announced the terrorist attacks that also had targeted the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

At the Toronto Dominion Bank here, staff members were relieved to hear that staff member Sophie Godin, who had gone to a wedding in New York, was safe.

“There were some concerns, yes, but she was able to get in touch with a family member who contacted us,” TD manager Kim Finlayson noted yesterday.

Godin was to return home on an American Airlines flight yesterday before the attack grounded all flights in the U.S. and Canada. “We just heard that she was safe and that she didn’t know when she would return,” noted Finlayson.

But Stratton resident Joanne Neilson is worried she may not be so lucky.

Neilson has tried--unsuccessfully--to reach a friend who just started a job at the Deutsch Bank in New York City. She is uncertain whether or not the office was in the destroyed World Trade Center.

“I have a friend who works for the Deutsch Bank. I know where she lives but I don’t know where she works,” said Neilson.

Neilson has kept in touch with her classmate since they went to school together at the University of Guelph, and the two have exchanged letters every year on their birthdays in late August and September.

“I had just received an e-mail. I e-mailed her and may have some news in the next few hours,” noted Neilson. “On the Deutsch Bank Web site, it says they will notify next-of-kin so that indicates they may have been in [the World Trade Center].

“We’re trying to track her down.”

Even at the Fort Frances Times, staff members were worried as co-owner Delsie Cumming was set to return home from St. Croix (U.S. Virgin Islands) via San Juan, Puerto Rico yesterday--which happened to be her 75th birthday.

“Seventy-five years ago, when my mother had me, she never would have thought I would have been like this in St. Croix,” Cumming said from her hotel room near the airport in San Juan.

Her flight left St. Croix about 10 minutes before all airlines were told to ground their flights. She arrived in San Juan to find it hectic with activity as people from all over the world searched for their luggage and news spread of the attacks.

Despite the news, and the cancellation of all flights, Cumming said the crowd remained calm as they found their luggage and searched for accommodations.

“People really were very helpful, the staff were unbelievable and people weren’t pushing,” she noted. “I met one of the girls that worked for American Airlines and I said, ‘I don’t know where to go’ and she said, ‘You stay right there and I’ll take you home with me.’”

Here, U.S. residents crossing the border on their way home from camping, hunting, and fishing trips were lined up across the international bridge and along Central Avenue.

All the vehicles waiting in line had the radios on as passengers listened with disbelief to what was happening in their country.

“We didn’t know until the guy at the gas station told us just now,” said John Wagner of Saint Paul, Mn. “Obviously, we were totally surprised. I just can’t believe it,”

“It’s crazy, we live in St. Anne, Ill. so it could still happen near us,” noted Gerald Forester as he and his wife, Gwen, sat in line yesterday.

“It’s just hard to believe,” she interjected.

Further down the lineup, a group of hunters sat in their camper, their engine off as they saved gas while waiting for more than an hour in line.

“I don’t know what this will mean but we could be in for some rough times,” warned driver Don Wagner.

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