River In Flood
On Christmas Eve in 1953, Cyril, his wife, and mother in law, were on their way to visit his parents at Rangataua. They were going to spend the evening and Christmas Day with his parents. They planned to return the day after Christmas. It was a pleasant ride and only 60 km away. He was born in Rangataua, New Zealand and had lived only a few kilometers from the foot of the largest of 3 volcanoes, that was locally known as Ruapehu. Although he had a lovely childhood, fishing with his father in the streams, he also knew the danger of the volcanoes. The road was quiet, when he stopped to get his jacket from the boot. As he opened the car door, he heard a roar that was growing louder. Then he realized it could only be the river at Tangiwai, which was a few kilometers further.
It was already early evening when they reached the river and saw at once that it was in flood and starting to overflow the bridge. As there had been no recent heavy rains, he knew that the flood could only be caused by the Ruapchu mountain.
Heading For Disaster
Ellis was surprised at the speed at which the river was rising. As he stared at the road and the railway bridge a bit further down he saw a yellow surge of water and the whole bridge disappeared in front of them. He thanked his lucky stars that they had been going slowly and had not been on the bridge. The noise was unbelievable and Ellis swung his torch and was amazed at the power of the roaring river. As he looked towards the Railway bridge, he was filled with horror. The concrete pillars supporting the bridge had washed away and only the rails remained. The rails were breaking away in slow motion. As if that was not enough he could see the approaching lights of a train.
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