The Yomiuri ShimbunResidents of the prefectures of Hiroshima and Okayama face various hurdles to rebuilding their lives after the devastation wrought by heavy rains, including scorching heat, shortages of necessary goods and disrupted water supplies. Many will likely have to stay in evacuation centers for a prolonged period.
The rainy season has ended in the areas affected by the record rainfall that battered western Japan. In Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, work began Monday evening to install air conditioners at six shelters in the town of Mabi and in the Mizushima district where many evacuees are staying.
At No. 2 Fukuda Elementary School in the Mizushima district, the installation of 12 air conditioners started Tuesday at the school’s gymnasium, where about 230 people had taken refuge. The heat has made them sweat as they sleep.
“I can’t stop sweating because it’s hot during the day,” said a 72-year-old woman who lives nearby but had been sheltering at the school with her husband for four days. “If we continue living in an unfamiliar environment as evacuees, we can’t help but get exhausted. So I’m grateful for the air conditioners.”
A 75-year-old man who had also taken shelter at the school said: “I want to check on my flooded house, but I can’t because it’s far away from the evacuation center.”
In Mabi, 27 percent of the district was flooded, and authorities have been unable to secure enough facilities for evacuees. Local residents were ferried to schools and elsewhere about five to 10 kilometers from the town by bus.
It currently takes more than an hour by car to reach the town from the shelters. The man said he has no means of transportation, as his car was submerged.
A city government official said, “We want to consolidate the evacuees in the town as soon as possible, but we’re not ready yet.”
Baby food needed
“It’s hard to get baby food,” a 40-year-old housewife of Saka, Hiroshima Prefecture, said with a sigh as she took care of her 1-year-old daughter. She evacuated to a shelter in the town with her husband and their 3-year-old son, but has had a hard time securing food for the 1-year-old. She currently gives her daughter some of the bread and boxed meals offered to adult evacuees, or baby food that she obtains from other evacuees with children of a similar age.
“I want to return to my normal life soon,” she said.
A 54-year-old nurse who has been visiting evacuation centers in Kumano, Hiroshima Prefecture, said: “Pharmaceutical products, such as antiseptic solution, are running short [at evacuation centers]. Some evacuees have suffered abrasions but left them untreated. There are fears of infection.” People remained missing after a landslide in the town.
Full services yet to resume
A serious water shortage has continued in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, where more than 80 percent of households have been hit by cuts in supply. The city government set up water stations at 40 locations in the city, but the water was not sufficient, prompting it to establish more stations on Tuesday.
About 50 local residents carrying emergency water bags and plastic bottles waited in a line Tuesday morning in front of a community center in the city.
A 73-year-old housewife said she walked about one kilometer with a baby buggy loaded with a 20-liter plastic tank and four bags, each of which can contain 10 liters of liquid.
She waited for an hour to receive water. She has taken refuge at her 42-year-old daughter’s home and is struggling to secure water for daily use.
The woman said she washes clothes in a nearby waterway and uses rainwater for the toilet. She limits the use of water for a bath to two wash bowls.