Japan is suffering this week under the impact of Typhoon Etau, as terrible flooding has consumed homes, communities, and taken a number of lives. The flooding has already forced as many as 100,000 people to evacuate, and a total of 2.8 million have been advised to evacuate by the the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. Japanese authorities are trying to grapple with the aftermath of massive flooding that hit the north-east of the country, killing several people and leaving many more stranded. The death toll in the prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi and Miyagi, to the north of Tokyo, rose to seven as of 6 p.m. on Sept. 13 after two bodies were found in Ibaraki and one in Tochigi the same day. As of Sept. 12, 5,618 people fled their homes to take refuge in emergency shelters in the three prefectures. About 4,700 buildings were reportedly inundated above floor level in the prefectures.
In parts of Tochigi prefecture, more than 50 centimeters (20 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours. Parts of Joso, a community of 65,000 residents in Ibaraki prefecture, were washed away Thursday when a levee on the Kinugawa River gave way, flooding an area that spans 32 square kilometers after the worst rains in decades. Roughly 2,000 troops, police and firefighters were deployed to rescue more than 100 people still trapped in water-logged buildings, the bulk of whom were patients and medical staff inside a flooded hospital.
Search and rescue officials are still hoping to find many missing people. In Ibaraki Prefecture, more than a dozen people remained unaccounted for as of Sept. 12. However, they are working hard. The number of missing in Joso dropped from 22 to 15 Saturday after police found more victims alive, including a pair of 8-year-old children
Sadly, many who are victims of this recent flood are also victims of the March 11 tsunami that ripped through central Japan several years ago. This new flood appears to have undone some of the important work that has been done in the last 4 years. In Fukushima Prefecture, bags containing radioactive waste generated by decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis have been swept away due to floods. In the village of Iitate, the bags containing radioactive waste collected during the cleanup following the 2011 nuclear disaster were missing and some bags had leaked their contents. The Environment Ministry said Sunday it was aware of 293 bags of radioactive waste that ended up in a river, of which 171 had been retrieved.
If you would like to help, there are many ways to assist.
In Japan, several western expatriots have a Facebook page called “Foreign Volunteers Japan” which offers news, updates, and resources to help.
Peace Boat is a Japan-based international non-profit that is raising money as well:
The Asahi Shinbun
The Japan Times