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franklin county times

Travelers stop in Mississippi after canceled flights force them to the highways

By Staff
CHECKING IN Charles Underwood, right, signs in at the Mississippi Welcome Center in Toomsuba on Wednesday. Underwood, his wife, Teena, and their two grandchildren were forced to the roads after the terrorist attack Tuesday canceled air traffic and cut short their Walt Disney World vacation. Photo by Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Sept. 13, 2001
TOOMSUBA A Texas couple that planned to take their two grandchildren to Walt Disney World on Wednesday instead found themselves visiting the Mississippi Welcome Center in Toomsuba.
Charles Underwood, his wife, Teena, and their two grandchildren were at Disney's Epcot Center at 11 a.m. Tuesday when officials suddenly closed the park because they feared a possible terrorist threat.
And when the Underwoods learned that air travel had been canceled after terrorists attacked New York City and Washington, they had no other choice but to rent a car for their trip back home to Terrell.
Alternate plans
The Underwoods were among several travelers, from families to businessmen, caught unaware by the sudden halt of air traffic. Rather than remain stranded indefinitely out of town, they chose to rent vehicles and drive all the way home.
And many of them stopped briefly at the Mississippi Welcome Center.
Sue Compton-Dial, an employee at the Welcome Center, said she met a lot of people the past two days who were traveling by rental car. She even talked with a man Wednesday who was passing through Mississippi after leaving New York.
Others passing through Mississippi included businessmen with Broadwing Communications in Austin. The four men and four women were attending a convention in Atlanta on Tuesday; the convention was canceled after the terrorist attack.
Long trip
After the group spent the night in Atlanta, they rented two 2001 Lincoln Navigators and began driving back to Austin.
Underwood was glad she, her husband and her grandchildren were headed back home even if it was in a rental car rather than a plane. She said the scene at Disney World on Tuesday was near panic.
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228 or E-mail him at fcarmichael@themeridianstar.com.

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