Fresh rain brings more misery to flood-hit Joso

Kyodo

As more rain fell Thursday on flood-stricken Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, residents who had been scraping mud away from their homes and businesses had to abandon the effort.

The fresh downpour came on the heels of a disaster that left at least eight people dead and evicted more than 3,000 a week ago as water surged through a broken levee along the Kinugawa River and raged through homes and businesses, sweeping away some buildings and toppling trees.

In Mitsukaidosuwa, one of the flood-hit neighborhoods in Joso, resident Akira Umezawa, 81, had just put some tatami out to dry by an apartment building when the rain began to fall.

“Oh well, they’re going to rot if I leave them this way,” he said with an air of resignation.

Farmer Masako Iimura, 63, one of the 160 or so evacuees sheltering in a gymnasium on the other side of the river in Konoyama, said the water flooded the ground floor of her house in the nearby town of Okishinden and left it uninhabitable.

She added, the experience was dreadful and haunts her even now — with the latest rain an unwelcome reminder.

“I get scared just hearing the sound of the rain. I heard the river level has swelled again,” Iimura said, referring to the Kinugawa River. “Just when I thought the waters had finally receded, I’m scared again that there may be another flood.”

An ill-fated noodle factory in Fuchigashira lost its roof when a rescue helicopter came in low and blew it away.

The rain that began on Thursday compounded the damage by soaking equipment and supplies inside. Flour and finished products were drenched and were starting to rot.

“There’s this unbearable stench and I want to clear the stuff,” said Kumiko Shibamori, the 75-year-old owner, throwing up her hands. “I don’t know what to do.”

No one was injured and no fresh flooding was reported from the latest rains, the Joso Municipal Government said.

The infrastructure ministry said the Kinugawa River was still receding, so even if it rose a bit it would not flood.

About 160,000 people with about ¥9.4 billion in insurance policies had contacted insurers by Monday about damage from Typhoon Etau in Kanto and Tohoku, Hisahito Suzuki, head of the General Insurance Association of Japan, said Thursday. Suzuki, who is also president of Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Co., was speaking at a news conference in Tokyo. He said the number of claims was sure to rise.

The flood made him realize “it’s important to do more on a daily basis about disaster preparedness and reduce disaster hazards.”

He said insurance claims relating to Typhoon Goni, which made landfall in Kyushu on Aug. 25, totaled 145,000, or ¥70.2 billion, as of Sept. 4.