Thursday, September 13, 2001

Stranded travelers find help in Florence

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Val Sena of Hyde Park invites LuAnn Herrmann (left) and Faith Gilman to her home Wednesday. The pair were stranded at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        FLORENCE — Angel Soto was planning a trip to Los Angeles for the Latin Grammys this week. But instead, the 39-year-old Brooklyn man was forced to detour to Northern Kentucky when Tuesday's terrorist activity shut down the nation's air traffic system.

        With no money for a motel and no idea where to go, Mr. Soto and father-in-law Radolpho Navas were approached by a Florence church member with an offer of free meals and lodging.

        “Being from New York, I was skeptical and a little scared, but I didn't know what else to do,” Mr. Soto said.

        For the past two days, Mr. Soto and Mr. Navas were among 13 travelers who slept on temporary beds at Christ United Methodist Church in Florence.

        So far, the church — one of 54 organizations to offer assistance to stranded airport travelers — has relied on 150 volunteers to prepare and serve meals, transport travelers and fill church hallways with donated food.

        The church's hospitality was just one of numerous good deeds popping up in the Tristate on the heels of Tuesday's attacks.

        On Wednesday, Hoxworth Blood Center continued to see many donors. On Tuesday, it had to close its University Hospital office because it was overwhelmed.

        “People just really want to help in any way they can,” said Margaret E. Maddox, the minister of discipleship and communication at Christ United Methodist Church. “I think in some way, they don't feel quite so helpless.”

        Until air traffic is normal, Cincinnati Bell is providing free incoming calls at more than 600 pay phones at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, spokeswoman Tressie Long said. The service also has been extended to all pay phones in local rest areas.

        And more than 100 individuals have contacted the airport with offers of help.

        “People just started showing up (Tuesday) afternoon offering to help in any way they could,” said Deacon Cliff Wartman, a volunteer chaplain at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        Cindy Clark put up three Boston travelers at her Burlington home Tuesday night.

        “I'm a Christian, and people have done a lot for me,” Miss Clark said. “I wanted to do what I could to help other people.”

        “We've had offers of help from as far away as West Chester (Township), Lawrenceburg and Batavia,” said Michael Lehman, pastor of Christ United Methodist Church. “People have been saying, "We can't go to New York. We can't go to Washington. But we can help at home.'”


At a glance
Attacks are topic No. 1 in classrooms
Body recovery part of work of NYC crews
Constituents' emotions unmitigated
Different faiths, all drawn to pray
Family clings to details of missing woman's fate
Jews seek normalcy
Local firefighters on task force joining rescue efforts
Muslims urged to give aid
No date, time for nation's air travel to resume
Outpouring of donations keeps blood supply steady
Relatives wait for word, pray
- Stranded travelers find help in Florence
Tightened air security will be norm
Travelers wait, pray in deserted airport
Work resumes, but life is different
Wright-Patterson medical personnel join effort
PULFER: Cell phones
RADEL: Tristate sprouts flying flags
Reports bring sweep of river
Court upholds stay for Byrd
Luken suggests raises for cadets
Luken unused to second place
Primary results
Council halts bid for road-extension vote
Superintendent's contract extended
Tristate A.M. Report
Woman shot outside school as it lets out