FUKUSHIMA – Disabled people have been forced to move to various evacuation shelters since the March 2011 calamity due mainly to the shortage of barrier-free facilities, a survey conducted by support group showed Saturday.
Among the 147 physically and mentally disabled people surveyed, mainly in Fukushima Prefecture, 118, or 80 percent, were moved at least three times, the survey said. Around 40 percent complained that their disabilities got worse.
The survey was conducted between 2015 and 2016.
Given the acute lack of availability in shelters with welfare services and functions in 2011, four people transferred a total of nine times in search of a better environment.
Only 16, or 11 percent, stayed in the first evacuation shelters they landed in, typically public gymnasiums and community halls. On average, the disabled people surveyed were moved four times.
After the meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Mieko Matsumoto, 58, moved to three evacuation shelters with her 26-year-old son, Yuta, in the space of four months.
Matsumoto said she could not feel relaxed because Yuta, who had cerebral palsy and was confined to a wheelchair, occasionally made loud noises and she always had to be mindful of the other evacuees.
Many respondents said they faced difficulty using the toilet or when they wanted to take a bath, since the shelters were not equipped to handle wheelchair users.
In 2013, the government compiled guidelines stressing the importance of having welfare evacuation shelters and installment procedures, urging municipalities across the nation to take steps in accordance with the lessons learned from mega-quake and nuclear crisis.
But similar problems emerged after Kumamoto Earthquake rocked Kyushu last April.