WhoDat Fan Reflects on 9-11-01
In an exclusive interview with BlackandGold.com, New Orleans native and former commercial airline employee Debra Marchand Domio takes a sobering look back ten years ago to September 11, 2001.
B&G.com: Ms. Domio (Debra), thank you for taking time out of your schedule to speak with us.
Debra: Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
B&G.com: As a native New Orleanian, what do you recall about the New Orleans Saints when they first came into the National Football League (NFL) back in 1967?
Debra: Well, back then I was just a kid. As a girl, I saw football as something that my dad and brothers used to monopolize the TV on Sunday. Just like most families, we only had one TV back in the 60’s. My mom was a Saints’ fan from the beginning, so my sisters and I got absolutely NO sympathy for “equal time.” It wasn’t until later that I began to follow the Saints. But once that happened, I have been a faithful follower.
B&G.com: We will come to the tragic events of 9/11, but if you don’t mind, let’s talk about Katrina before we go there.
Debra: Sure; that’s OK.
B&G.com: You and your husband (Lucious) are both native New Orleanians, right?
Debra: Yes. As a matter of fact, our families lived in the same neighborhood (in the Lower Ninth Ward). But I didn’t meet him until some years later.
B&G.com: So you both had a lot of family in New Orleans when Katrina hit?
Debra: Yes. But most of our friends and family have scattered across the country since that time. Lucious and I were married in the late 70’s, and moved to California in the mid-1980’s, long before Katrina.
B&G.com: What do you recall about that period of time in 2005?
Debra: I remember that it was a very confused time. The evacuation process was a mess, with people using the Superdome and New Orleans Convention Center as disaster shelters. My husband’s mother was hospitalized for a stroke a few days prior to Katrina hitting, and she was evacuated to Alexandria, LA before the storm arrived. But during that time, we lost contact with her. My husband’s sister remained behind to stay with her mother, and she made sure she was settled in properly. It took about a week before we got in touch with them (to find out that they were OK).
B&G.com: That had to be rough. Is there anything about the Saints that stands out in your mind?
Debra: Yes. I remember that there was a lot of talk about relocating them in San Antonio (or elsewhere). It didn’t look good, because most people were told that the Saints would never return to New Orleans. But as we look back, we can all agree that it was wonderful that many fought for the team to stay right there in New Orleans.
B&G.com: All right; what about 9/11? Everyone old enough to remember that day can tell you EXACTLY where they were and what they were doing when events started to unfold on that day. What about you?
Debra: Who can forget it? I was an employee for Delta Airlines. I was a ticket counter representative, and I actually found out that something was going on… from our customers. One after another, they were telling us about the planes hitting the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and the one that crashed in Pennsylvania.
B&G.com: How did it impact your company and fellow employees?
Debra: A lot of people don’t know this, but many flight attendants were so shaken that they left their jobs, and chose to NOT return (because of flight safety concerns). It was very traumatic for them to think about all that went on with those hijacked planes, and it was just too much for them to deal with. Another thing is that many of us cut way back on travel on flights. As employees, we had the freedom to fly just about anywhere in the States free-of-charge. But after 9/11, there was a significant drop-off in the number of employees taking advantage of that “freebie.”
B&G.com: What about changes in physical security at the airports?
Debra: There was an immediate change. You noticed a significant increase in the number of security personnel. Preflight screening, scanning and inspection of take-on baggage, and not allowing non-passengers to come to the waiting area prior to takeoff were all changes that altered “business as usual.” A good bit of it is very inconvenient. But overall, it is worth it for the peace of mind in knowing that you’re much more secure on the flight.
B&G.com: Anything else with the company or support vendors?
Debra: Yes. Profitability of the airline suffered. You may remember that many airlines came close to bankruptcy, and some actually went out of business. Also, vendors who had service kiosks in the waiting areas lost a lot of business, since non-passengers were not allowed past the security screening point. Unfortunately, many of them went out of business.
Remembering 9/11 video:
B&G.com: How did post-9/11 impact you and your family?
Debra: Again, it really hit me hard because I was a long time employee in the airline industry. For a couple of years, I refused to take a flight. My mother was traumatized as well. For instance, when her brother died, she did not attend his funeral because of her fear of air travel. In my case, I finally faced my fear of flight travel when my aunt (who was near and dear to me) passed away. And although I feared air travel, she meant a lot to me and I wasn’t going to let my fear stop me from paying my respects at her funeral.
B&G.com: The Saints are about to play in the NFL season-kickoff game vs. the Green Bay Packers. Who will be watching at your home?
Debra: If I get off in time, I may be able to catch some of the game. I know that my husband and mom (who lives with us) will be right there in the living room, tuned-in.
B&G.com: Any predictions on the outcome?
Debra: You know, I’ll be rooting for the Saints. But to me it doesn’t matter the outcome because I’ll pull for the New Orleans Saints …NO MATTER WHAT! I’m with them all the way!
B&G.com: Ms. Domio (Debra), thank you very much for giving us your special (and candid) perspective on 9/11 as we approach the 10th anniversary of that event. On behalf of the Who Dat Nation and Saints fans (and fellow Americans) everywhere, we greatly appreciate your remarks.
Debra: You’re welcome; it was my pleasure.
We all get caught up in the politics of it all, but as Americans we better damn sure never forget 9/11.
Great read Bill...thanks for posting..
Awesome interview. It really hits home. I still remember seeing the destruction that day. Geaux USA!!
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