Life away from home in shelters ‘unbearable’

Kyodo News

Of those who left their prefectures to escape the wrath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, one in six feel it is “unbearable” to continue living in shelters instead of their homes, a survey said Sunday.

The Kyodo survey, which covered 160 evacuees from Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, also said evacuees are worried about money and work, and over half are experiencing psychological trauma.

Amid the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power station, which has sparked national concerns over food safety, many evacuees living in abnormal circumstances said they were growing tired and angry over their murky futures.

According to the National Police Agency, more than 150,000 people have been displaced by the disaster. A tally by Kyodo News found that about 35,000 people mostly from Fukushima Prefecture have fled to other prefectures.

When asked how long they will be able stay in the shelters, 18 percent of the respondents, mostly from Fukushima, said one month, followed by 17 percent who said three months, 14 percent who said six months and 10 percent who were willing to stay for a year.

“Without working, and earning money for living, I’m getting closer to the limit of my patience,” said a woman in her 30s who evacuated to Fukuoka Prefecture from Miyagi.

Asked to pick three issues that worry them most, 53 percent cited money (for living expenses), 50 percent chose work and 40 percent said housing.

Some 30 percent said they were worried about their houses and assets, 28 percent they were concerned about their health and their family members, while 25 percent said they were fretting over education for their children and grandchildren.

The psychological impact of the disaster is also a concern, with 55 percent saying they continue to suffer from mental trauma. “I dream about the earthquake and tsunami,” many say.