Two weeks after deadly Kyushu rains, work begins on temporary homes for the displaced

Kyodo

Local authorities in Kyushu began construction of temporary homes on Wednesday for those displaced by massive downpours earlier in the month that left at least 34 dead and seven missing.

The Fukuoka prefectural government plans to build a total of 57 units in the city of Asakura and the village of Toho, two areas hit hardest by the disaster, in about a month so that residents can start moving in by mid-August.

Torrential rains in Kyushu beginning two weeks ago caused massive flooding and mudslides that destroyed homes and roads, displacing more than 2,000 people at one point in neighboring Fukuoka and Oita prefectures. About 800 people were still unable to return to their homes as of Tuesday.

Toho Mayor Hiroaki Shibuya told construction workers, “It was an unprecedented calamity. I hope to see the construction of houses where residents can live at ease as soon as possible.”

In Fukuoka, 40 units will be built in the playground of an elementary school in Asakura and 17 at a former elementary school in Toho.

“We hope to alleviate residents’ stress by building houses with a warm feeling,” said a Fukuoka prefectural government official.

All the temporary housing units in Fukuoka will be wooden, and two in Toho will be barrier-free for those with physical disabilities.

The government of Fukuoka said it decided on the number of temporary homes based on a survey covering residents affected by the heavy rain. But it said it may consider building more units if there are further requests.

In Oita, the prefectural government has decided to cover the cost of more than 30 rented homes and offer 40 public housing units for free in the city of Hita.

As of Tuesday, 11 households had applied for the free facilities and 60 families for public housing.

Meanwhile, rescue workers and municipal government officials offered silent prayers at Asakura city’s disaster response headquarters for those who died.

“I sincerely ask you to make an utmost effort to search for the seven people who remain unaccounted for,” Asakura Mayor Shunsuke Morita told Self-Defense Force members engaged in search operations.