'I wonder 20 years later what they would remember': EIA employee saves child's drawing found in airport after 9/11
For nearly 20 years, Lori Seemann has held onto a child’s drawing she found in a departure lounge at the Edmonton International Airport.
“It depicts airplanes and the tarmac and bridges and people, ground equipment and suitcases and that’s what that child has in their eyes. That’s what they are remembering from this experience. That’s what they’re seeing,” said Seemann, a customer service team member at the time.
The drawing was found the day flights were allowed to resume after the September 11 terror attacks in the U.S.
“That could be a really happy image of people coming and going in planes and there’s little people’s faces in the aircraft and presumably they could be happy going somewhere,” Seemann said.
She doesn’t know who drew the picture but hopes it was a good memory for the child at the time.
“I wonder 20 years later what they would remember,” she said.
“It’s become really special for me. I got it framed and I’ve got it in a place and that’s my recollection of 9/11.”
'IT WAS COMPLETELY UNBELIEVEABLE'
Seemann remembers the morning of the attacks well. She had just returned home from a run and was stretching in front of the television.
“It was completely unbelievable, you just could not get your head wrapped around what you were seeing on TV,” she said.
Courtesy: Traci Bednard
She was already scheduled to work at the airport that day. When she arrived she said things "got busy very fast."
“An immediate impact. It wasn’t that things were going to roll out, it was an immediate impact. So the way things rolled out for me at the airport was, as soon as it became news or information that there was going to be a shut down of aviation space over North America and that aircraft needed to land immediately. That’s when the phones started ringing,” Seemann said.
The calls were from Edmonton and area residents at first wanting to know how they could help stranded passengers.
“Offering accommodations and that was all happening prior to us having and understanding of what Edmonton was going to deal with,” she said.
Courtesy: Traci Bednard
As airport staff prepared to deal with international flights having to land in Edmonton they first had to deal with domestic flights that were turned around.
“There was one time that someone whispered to me that there’s a potential that a fighter aircraft might have to take down a domestic aircraft and that was, well, you know, still makes me anxious.”
“And I clearly recall people, passengers getting off those regional aircrafts and coming in to get their luggage and not knowing why they had returned to the airport and what the situation was,” said Seemann.
With 10 years in the aviation industry at the time, Seemann had to put on a brave face and comfort passengers arriving in Edmonton.
“I’m there to solve people’s problems. That’s what I do and I’m experienced at it and I’m very good at it,” she said.
But she wasn’t working with the technology we have come to rely on today.
Seemann said they had a flip phone and landline and were trying to secure information about hotel availability, information then handwritten on a flip chart.
“As folks are walking out of Canada customs we’re taking their names and numbers and what airlines they’re on and they can then take a look at the flip charts to see what might work for them,” said Seemann.
At least four international flights were forced to land at the EIA. Seemann said a flight with Korean Air was one of them and that the Korean Association in Edmonton sent translators to the airport to help communicate with passengers.
Seemann said she got to know many of the passengers in the three days they were in Edmonton.
“Watching that aircraft take off out of the windows once it was loaded and departing, I mean, watching it actually leave I had tears in my eyes. Well, I think I was exhausted too but they were exhausted, and you know, they were going home so that made it very emotional. The whole thing was emotional.”
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Carlyle Fiset