Recovery efforts continue in southwest Japan after heavy rain

Man watching flooded street in Japan. Photo by the Kyodo. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

FUKUOKA, Jul 11, 2020, Kyodo. Recovery efforts continued Saturday in Japan’s southwestern region of Kyushu, battered by torrential rain a week ago that caused deadly flooding and landslides, with at least 16 people still missing, Japan Today reported.

The disaster has left 63 people dead in the region, and more rain is expected in wide areas. Assistance from volunteers has been hampered by the spread of the novel coronavirus, with many municipalities deciding to welcome help only from residents of their own prefectures.

In the past, disaster-affected communities in Japan have attracted volunteers from across the country, especially over the weekend.

“We have to finish clearing away debris as soon as possible,” said Tadanobu Umeyama, 79, who heads a team of volunteers in Oita Prefecture.

“We have a manpower shortage,” Umeyama added as he cleaned out the mud from a traditional “ryokan” inn in Amagase hot spring resort in Hita with 12 other volunteers.

According to the land ministry, 92 rivers in 10 prefectures have overflowed their banks, and there have been 251 cases of damage from landslides, about one-fifth of which occurred in Kumamoto Prefecture, hit hardest by the rain.

In the village of Kuma in the prefecture, Moriyoshi Yamaguchi, 74, said, “I was making progress on removing trash. But rain continues and I don’t know when I can finish.”

In Hitoyoshi, also in the prefecture, dozens of trucks full of muddy straw tatami mats and other household items formed a long line before the opening of a temporary collection site for disaster refuse.

“I want to see the number of temporary collection sites increased,” said Kosuke Tashiro, 63, who was in the line from 6 a.m.

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