Southern Malawi, … The rain had been coming down in torrential waves for the past two days, and rivers and streams could not handle the load. They were beginning to overflow their banks, and unknown to thousands of village people the water was about to become their enemy. For many villagers, proximity to rivers means access to drinking water, water for washing clothes, and water to irrigate the crops that have meant survival. The unsuspecting residents of Phalombe and Mulanje Districts were about to become victims of the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy. It will later be described by the weather service as “the longest-running cyclone in history,” and by Malawi’s President as having the power of an entire season of hurricanes to strike America all in a single blow.
The only thing that was known by Justin Yasini and his family was the fact there was so much rain and wind they were scared for their lives. The family retreated to their small house and huddled together in the dark. After a time, the two boys, Bryon 14, and Tonek 12, fell asleep as no let-up in the rains was expected for some time. Justin and his wife listened to the furious storm as it pounded unmercifully on the sides of their tiny house. Then they heard water outside, and they decided they needed to get to higher ground. They awakened the children and stepped out into the darkness to seek a safer place. Scared and unsure of what lay ahead Justin was immediately swept off his feet and separated from his family. He clung to the sugarcane reeds near the riverbank. He listened but could hear no sounds from his wife or children. Where were they? Were they already dead? Swept downstream never to be seen again? Would he ever see any of them again? He held desperately to the reeds to keep from being swept away himself.
Pictured is the trading center near the home of Justin Yasini, completely destroyed by Cyclone Freddy.
(Part 2 will be continued next week)