• Kyodo

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Public facilities in Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, have opened their bathing and shower areas to disaster victims after much of the city was flooded last week by the rain-swollen Kinugawa River.

“After cleaning up the sludge-filled house I was sweaty all over,” Sadao Akiba, 74, said while taking a bath at Mitsukaido Asunaro no Sato, which provides space and accommodations for training sessions.

Akiba did not evacuate and is living in the second floor of his house with his wife and dog after the first floor was flooded.

He smiled and stretched out his legs in the public bath, which measures about 18 meters by 2 meters.

“I couldn’t take a bath for three days, and in this hot weather,” he said.

In addition to letting people use its bathing facilities, more than 100 evacuees were staying there as of Sunday.

“I am very grateful because I can neither wash my body nor brush my teeth at home,” said Masako Shibata, an 81-year-old woman who was rescued by boat from her house.

She is currently staying with her daughter, 57, and her 3-year-old great-grandchild.

“To be honest, I hope I can return to my home,” she said.

Another evacuation facility, the Ishige gym, also opened its showers to the victims.

“There are showers, restrooms and sufficient supplies. I don’t have any complaints,” said Fujio Iimura, 63, adding he wished to stay until it closes due to the chaos at his house, his worsening health and regular need for medication.

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