Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: STORM (10/05/17)
- TITLE: Stranded
By Lisa Enqvist
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Mom and Dad hoped to reach their two sons, aged 22 and 23 on the ship by Christmas. They traveled the last 630 kilometers south by train to Danushkodi on Pamban island. They would continue by ferry to Mannar on the northwest coast of Ceylon. Their budget did not cover air travel. From Mannar, they would still have a few hours journey to Kayts, a calm harbor outside Jaffna where my dad had anchored his gospel ship.
As their train headed south on its eleven-hour journey from Madras towards the town of Mandapam, a storm was approaching from the eastern part of the Indian Ocean. From Mandapam, another train took them across the meter-gauge Pamban bridge past the Rameshwaram temple, popular among Hindu pilgrims, to the Danushkodi railway station. After necessary customs procedures, they boarded the ferry.
A very rough four-hour ferry ride took them to Mannar in Ceylon. Anna, always seasick on ships, was glad to disembark.
Soon after Anna and Toimi along with all the other passengers had disembarked and entered the customs building, a huge wave threw the ferry up onto the jetty.
All the passengers boarded a waiting train that would take them onward on their journey. It seemed as though Dad and Mom might reach their destination by Christmas. They had no radio, so they did not know anything about the approaching danger.
They were on the train from Mannar, traveling to the causeway connecting the island with mainland Ceylon. Before reaching the bridge, the train stopped suddenly and began reversing. The passengers looked out of the windows to see why. They saw a tidal wave tear up the railway line just in front of the train.
There was no way to leave the small island. The train reversed all the way back to the station. There was no way to inform the boys on Ebeneser of the situation. No telephones. No telegraph. No radio. Christmas was two days away.
The cyclone isolated them from the outside world for several days. As soon as the storm abated Dad found a fisherman who was willing to take him and Mom to Kayts by sea.
My brothers had fought cyclone winds trying to keep the Ebeneser from being thrown up on the shore in Kayts. The cast out all the anchors and kept the engines running, turning the ship to face the winds. They succeeded, but they knew nothing of their parents' fate until the fishing boat arrived from Mannar.
Everyone was relieved to find each other alive and well. After the storm abated, my brothers heard the news that the cyclone had destroyed the Pamban Bridge and the train. They knew our parents were traveling in that area but did not know whether they were on the ill-fated train or not.
The official report later informed:
“On December 22, the cyclone struck northern areas of Ceylon and caused catastrophic damage. According to survivors, a storm surge of 4.5 m (15 ft) swept across the region. Initial reports stated that 250 people lost their lives with thousands missing. About 5000 houses and 700 fishing boats were destroyed in the Jaffna district of Ceylon. Other badly hit areas include Mannar… About 350 Ceylonese fishermen were missing at sea.
On December 23, an estimated 7.6 m (25 ft) storm surge struck the town of Dhanuskodi on the south-eastern edge of the island, submerging the town and overturning the Pamban-Dhanuskodi passenger train killing all 115 passengers on board. The town, an important transit point between India and Ceylon, was utterly destroyed. Before the cyclone, the town had been a significant commercial center with a railway station, a customs office, post and telegraphs office, a higher elementary school and harbor offices. The port had been functioning since 1914. At least 800 people were killed in Dhanushkodi alone.”
Isaiah 43:1-2, Isaiah 43:10-12
This was not the first, nor the last storm my parents faced. God’s promises proved to be true at all times.
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