National

Over 1,100 still living in temporary housing 12 months after Kyushu rains

JIJI, Kyodo

More than 1,100 people are still living in temporary housing as Kyushu on Thursday marked the first year since a record heavy rainfall of 129.5 millimeters in a single hour poured upon Asakura, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Over 40 people lost their lives, and two people are still missing in Asakura.

“I will do my utmost to create a safe community … taking lessons from the disaster,” Asakura Mayor Yuji Hayashi said during the city’s memorial ceremony Thursday.

Yoichi Inoue, 58, who lost his parents in the disaster, looked back with sorrow.

“I’ve lost my home and the landscape of my hometown has changed. I still can’t accept that reality. I learned the hard way that anyone can be personally affected by a natural disaster,” Inoue said.

The city and the nearby village of Toho plan to build some 100 public housing units for people affected by the disaster by the summer of 2019.

Officials in Hita, Oita Prefecture, are also planning to have public housing built for victims of the disaster.

Operations to remove large amounts of soil and tree debris, washed down by floodwaters, have been making steady progress.

About two-thirds of debris totaling 200,000 tons of tree trunks and branches has been removed in Fukuoka Prefecture. The removal operation in mountainous areas is slated to finish by the end of the fiscal year.

The removal of soil on roads and in rivers is almost finished in the prefecture. Asakura plans to fully clear farmland of soil debris by the end of October in time for sowing wheat seeds.

In the wake of the disaster, officials in Asakura revised criteria for issuing evacuation advisories and instructions in April so that they will be issued in high-risk mountainous areas earlier than in others.

Toho also changed its guidelines on issuing evacuation advisories and instructions.

Kyushu Railway Co.’s Kyudai Line will resume full operations on July 14.

It remains unclear when services will resume on an affected part of the company’s Hitahikosan Line, where repairs are expected to cost about ¥7 billion.