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Remembering Fort Lauderdale

I was googling my name, and found this article from our newspaper by Rebecca Bream from 3 years ago. I wanted to get it on my blog so it didn't get lost. there were details I had already forgotten. It is about my ordeal at at Fort Lauderdale Airport and a gunman came and shot several people. Very scary.

(January 10, 2017) "It's kind of a blur," said Lunsford, 65. "Everybody's just sitting there, normal, it's packed, the whole place. I received a text from my sister asking, 'Are you near the shootings?' "

Lunsford, who had just finished a few days in the sun at West Palm Beach, said she asked a vendor if there was an issue, to which the woman told her there was a shooting in another terminal.

Lunsford said she was talking to her son on the phone and started to learn more information about what was happening.

"The people who seemed to hear the most were the ones who saw the news on TV and social media, and weren't even at the airport," Lunsford said. "People started screaming, I had to hide under a seat, and I told my son I had to go and that I loved him."

Lunsford quickly became one of the several people running on the tarmac after an announcement over the airport intercom told everyone to calmly go to the nearest exit during what she described as a "breathless panic."

"You can't control a lot of people and where they go," Lunsford said. "I don't know how they could've done it different, the staff didn't even know. I was thinking, are there other gunmen out here? Are we under attack? Where is safety? If you think about it, there's no safe place in the world."

Although Lunsford didn't hear or see the gunman or any victims, she said she could see out the terminal windows before exiting. "There were policemen everywhere, helicopters flying over all the time," Lunsford said. "They were trying to cover the whole airport looking for anything that looked suspicious."

Lunsford credits her faith, mentality and interactions with others to getting her through the six long, hot hours outside as everyone waited to get out of airport grounds.

"I had some really neat interactions with people," Lunsford said. "We felt that bond in that tragedy."

She calls the bonding "indivisible orchestration," as everyone gathered and shared their phones, snacks, stories, and helped each other find their loved ones whenever possible.

The artist and Muncie arts advocate contributed in her own way. Since Lunsford only traveled with her backpack and was able to grab it when the chaos erupted, she had her art materials with her.

"I got my paints out and poured some water into the cup, and I started painting the sunset," Lunsford said. "I felt a tap on my shoulder and this lady was there with her three little girls and husband and asked if her girls could watch me paint and it opened up some interaction. I looked at the little girls and asked if they wanted to paint, they were painting some beautiful pictures. Only the parents could speak English, so the girls were communicating through pictures."

Lunsford said her mission is to bring art into tragic situations and it's how she uses art wherever she goes. "It's how I relate to people," Lunsford said.

Lunsford and the hundreds of people around her were eventually taken to a city by bus. Lunsford went back to her friend's place in West Palm Beach and stayed there before renting a car to drive to Atlanta, where she flew out of on Monday. She said she's clearing her head through art and journaling, and that although she feels better, Lundsford doesn't know how she will be tomorrow. "It makes you look at life and ponder," Lunsford said.

Anderson, 21, had just finished a four-day cruise out of Miami and was waiting for her flight back to Indianapolis before beginning her second semester of her junior year at Ball State University.