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9/11: A Year After / WHO WE ARE NOW

Carol Matyi

September 11, 2002

Carol Matyi, 61, a retired nurse from Irwin, Pa., was on her way home from Italy when the terrorists struck. Her Sabena Airlines flight was rerouted to St. John's, Canada. It took Matyi nine days to get home.

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"[The pilot] said we were going to have to change course. He didn't give a reason. Nobody knew what was going on. Then he came back on as we got closer to St. John's [and said] that there had been an attack on the World Trade Center.

They took us by bus to an ice hockey arena. The Red Cross was there and all these volunteers from the town. There was food and drink for us. They brought phones in, and we were able to try to contact our families [who] didn't know where we were. I got through to my son.

We boarded another bus. I went to a high school. There were 550 of us at this high school. People were on the gym floor. I slept in a classroom on the gym mats.

The next day, Wednesday, there were people from town who came to volunteer. You want to go sightseeing? You want to go whale-watching? People said to me, 'I'm just so happy to be able to do something for an American, because they were so good to us during World War II.' That just made your heart burst.

Three times, our flight was canceled. We finally got to leave Tuesday evening. Believe me, when I got home, I was ready for my bed.

After we started settling in [in St. John's], it was almost like an extended vacation. The people were so wonderful. You always hear that strangers never care. This was very enlightening."

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As told to Scott Gold

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