Strong Tyhpoons hit Japan

After having to endure numerous earthquakes, a tsunami and a nuclear catastrophe in the recent months, Japan has now had to face the devastation impacts of two consecutive typhoons.

Typhoon Talasa lashed through the western parts of Japan from 3 to 4 September leaving devastation in its wake. 67 people have been reported dead and 26 more are still missing. Typhoon Roke travelled over the main island of Japan as well as the tsunami affected areas and brought heavy rain falls and strong winds causing landslides and floods.

Wakayama has many villages which locate on the hill of mountains with beautiful rice farms. Wakayama, September 2010.

Wakayama has many villages which locate on the hill of mountains with beautiful rice farms. Wakayama, September 2010.

Wakayama prefecture was the most severely affected prefecture by the typhoon Talasa, where 55 people are dead or missing and 180 houses were completely destroyed. Nearly 1,000 people are staying in evacuation centres with worries of more perils – another landslide or natural dams created by mudslides bursting.

River banks are destroyed and cars are turned over in Wakayama 7th September 2011.

River banks are destroyed and cars are turned over in Wakayama 7th September 2011.

The people who lost their lives lived in the villages on the mountain. Most of them were elderlies who could not leave the homes in heavy rains even through there were evacuation warnings.

The main road to these villages which is often the only access to the area is blocked by landslides and villagers have been trapped for many days with limited supply of food and water. It has also been challenging to get aid into the villages.

The Japanese Red Cross quickly responded to the humanitarian needs caused by the typhoons. The Red Cross chapter in Wakayama distributed blankets and emergency sets which include torches, radios and towels to more than 2,000 evacuees.

Relief items are loaded on the truck at the Red Cross Chapter in Wakayama. 4th September 2011.

Relief items are loaded on the truck at the Red Cross Chapter in Wakayama. 4th September 2011.

A Red Cross volunteer, Takashi Ogawa (47) has been helping survivors in the Ryujin which has a population 4,300 people. His home too was not spared by the destruction brought about by the typhoon. The road in front of his house was blocked by mudslides and it took him half a day to clear it.
Since electricity and telephone line had been cut off, only three satellite phones including one which was his personal asset, were the only means to communicate with the outside world. Takashi played a key role in guiding self-defense forces to the affected areas to assist the villagers in clearing the roads.

“I have never experienced such a huge typhoon in my life. It is fortunate that the villagers here have strong ties with one another and they are supporting each other to survive with the limited supplies they have now. It created great anxieties to be cut off from the rest of the world”, says Takashi.

Red Cross Volunteer Mr.Ogawa is guiding a patient on wheel chair to helicopter.

Red Cross Volunteer Mr.Ogawa is guiding a patient on wheel chair to helicopter.

Local authority says, “the residents are very tired of cleaning the area. The second typhoon Roke has also created extra burden and caused more anxiety among the community. People are already reaching their physical and psychological limit to endure more.”

“I hear the people here say that they were relieved to see the Red Cross emblem. It is difficult for most people to respond to a disaster, especially if they have never experienced one. I am glad to have had the experience working in the various disasters in Japan before, as I am now able to contribute to my hometown,” continued Takashi Ogawa.

It may take around one year to fully restore the roads. Typhoon Roke did not cause any damage to this village, but close monitoring of the situation is required since the mountains retained a lot of water and more landslides may occur.