Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Going to Alaska Part 3, "Wash Out!"

The scenery along the train's route changed from farmland to prairie, and after many days of travel, the Rocky Mountains loomed ahead. When the train entered British Columbia near the end of May 1948, our food supplies had run out, but our parents weren't too worried. We would soon meet up with my uncle's mission boat in Prince Rupert and be sailing to Pelican, Alaska.

As the train approached the Columbia River Basin, however, my parents watched anxiously as a tributary along the tracks churned angrily and rose higher and higher. Along with its tributaries, the Columbia River Basin covers seven states and most of central British Columbia.

"The tracks are washed out!" The word was passed from car to car:  "We're being rerouted by bus to Vancouver."

Unbeknownst to the Cousarts, the snow pack that winter had been up to 135 percent of normal. Warmer than usual temperatures and two major rainstorms the latter half of May 1948 had combined with the high snow melt to swell tributaries feeding the Columbia to the highest flood levels ever. The Columbia River went on a rampage, flooding the entire basin, affecting communities as far up river as Trail, British Columbia, and as far south as Vanport, Oregon, the second largest city in Oregon at that time. Named the Vanport Flood, it totally destroyed that city. Thirty thousand people were displaced from their homes in the Columbia River Basin, and fifty people lost their lives.

Food and money gone, my parents didn't know what to do when we reached Vancouver. "I think my parents have friends who pastor a church here," Mother told my father. So my intrepid mother found a telephone and called the operator. "Can you connect me with an Assemblies of God church in Vancouver?" she asked. (She didn't know that in Canada they went by a different name.)

"I don't see any church by that name," the operator said, "but I'll see what I can do."

The first church she connected Mother to turned out to be just the one she was looking for. Pastor MacAllister knew my grandparents. Even though it was late on Saturday, he took us out to dinner and put us up in the church missionary apartment, all free of charge.

The railroad gave the stranded passengers tickets for the steamer to Ketchikan, and meals were included. On Monday, we set sail. If we had had to travel by train to Prince Rupert as planned, we would not have had enough food or money to buy more. God used a bad set of circumstances to meet our needs.

My parents wired my uncle to meet us in Ketchikan, and within a few days we arrived in Pelican. As we sailed up Lizianski Inlet and I sighted the framework of the church building overlooking the water, I sang out in my two-and-a-half-year-old voice, "There's Pelilik! Now we're in Alassa!"

How has God met your needs in times of trouble?

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