National

20,000 homes damaged by Typhoon Faxai; classes resume at many Chiba schools

Kyodo, Staff Report

The powerful typhoon that hit the Tokyo metropolitan area earlier this month appears to have damaged at least 20,000 houses in Chiba Prefecture, local government officials said Tuesday.

The tally was far larger than the roughly 4,000 that the Chiba Prefectural Government officially announced earlier Tuesday.

A Chiba official said the number of houses damaged by Typhoon Faxai may increase because local authorities have yet to find out details about affected areas as they have been busy dealing with power cuts and evacuated people.

Many elementary and junior high schools in Chiba Prefecture reopened Tuesday after a weeklong closure due to widespread blackouts caused by Typhoon Faxai.

In the city of Yachimata, all 13 public elementary and junior high schools reopened, although around 6,000 households remained without electricity. Three elementary schools had to draw electricity from mobile generators.

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, about 58,000 households in the prefecture were still without power, and damages to agricultural, fishing and forestry industries are estimated at ¥26.7 billion.

Industry minister Isshu Sugawara told a news conference Tuesday that electricity is expected to be restored almost completely by Sept. 27.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said the central government will use ¥1.32 billion from a state reserve fund to provide food, water, plastic sheets and other materials to support the recovery of the typhoon-affected areas.

“We will continue providing assistance swiftly to disaster victims,” Aso told a news conference.

According to the Yachimata Municipal Government, public elementary and junior high schools had been closed since Sept. 9, when Faxai made landfall in the prefecture and became one of the strongest recorded typhoons to hit the Kanto region.

Air conditioners at all of the schools in Yachimata, including those relying on electricity from power generator vehicles, can now be used, an official at the city government confirmed. The schools will also provide lunches, but are unable to serve milk as production has been disrupted due to the power outage.

“It was a relief to hear the voices of the children again,” said Hitoshi Morisawa, principal of Koshin Elementary School, where about 210 students returned. “I am thankful that a power generator vehicle came.”

Kosuke Takane, a sixth grader, said he was happy to see that everyone was doing OK. Having spent a week without power, he said, “I learned the importance of electricity and water.”

In the city of Tateyama, 13 of 14 public elementary and junior high schools had restarted classes by Tuesday. One of the junior high schools was unable to reopen due to a rain leak caused by heavy downpours Monday.

Some schools in Tateyama will not be able to provide school lunches for the time being, as the city’s food distribution center that prepares school lunches was damaged by the typhoon.”It will take a while before we can provide students with school lunches,” a city official said.

As power outages continue into a second week, people in the affected areas have expressed anger and anxiety, including via social media.

Twitter user @junriseyo wrote Tuesday that some areas in Yachimata still didn’t have power or water supplies, and that mobile networks were not working either.

“We’re at the end of our tether. Please, do something,” the message read.

Acknowledging people’s concerns, some of the affected municipalities have reached out to local residents and issued advice aimed at reducing health risks posed by the ongoing power outages.

The city of Minamiboso warned its residents to keep themselves hydrated. Temperatures continued to soar above 30 degrees Celsius on Tuesday afternoon.

“High temperatures in buildings and outside pose risks of heat-related illnesses; power outages may also cause food poisoning — please don’t eat anything from the refrigerator if the power is out,” Minamiboso officials wrote in a message posted Tuesday.

Reacting to news of a plan by the Tateyama Municipal Government to evacuate elderly residents to lodging facilities in the city, a user with the handle @makoparuK asked for similar assistance in the city of Sanmu.

“Please do it in Sanmu too. We’re desperate — without water and power, we’re all tired physically and mentally. I’m so worried about my grandmother,” they wrote.

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