• Jiji


At least 230 households are living in temporary accommodations outside their home areas one month after heavy rains caused massive floods in southern Kumamoto Prefecture.

The prefectural government is building temporary housing, with over 1,400 people still living in evacuation centers. Demand for housing is expected to be far larger, however, as many residents evacuated to the homes of relatives.

In the heavily damaged mountainous areas of Kuma and the Sakamotomachi district of Yatsushiro, the prefecture is finding it difficult to secure land for temporary housing because national roads have been cut off by damage from the deluge.

Kuma is trying to set up some 320 housing units. But the lack of available land has forced it to build around 170 units over 20 kilometers away from the village.

Bus driver Miyoshi Funato, 56, whose one-story house in Kuma was inundated, chose to live for now in a private home rented by the local government, because temporary housing looked unlikely to become available anytime soon.

Funato said that there were few homes available for rent at the time. His current place was found only with the help from relatives.

According to Toyooka Chiken, a real estate agency in Yatsushiro, Kuma and Sakamotomachi had few rental properties to begin with, as many local residents are elderly people with their own homes.

The company said that some 60 households affected by the rain disaster have sought rental housing in the flatland area of Yatsushiro as their temporary places to live, instead of their home areas.

“There is a chance that applications from those who lost out in the lottery for public housing will increase,” an official said, expecting a further demand increase in the flatland area.

In Hitoyoshi, where 3,775 buildings were inundated by floods from the Kuma River, the most in the prefecture, 504 households applied for 30 slots in the city’s first batch of municipal housing for disaster victims.

The Hitoyoshi government said it will secure homes for victims also by utilizing private-sector rental properties, as it has only started the construction of 144 units of temporary housing.

There have also been delays in confirming the level of demand for housing.

A prefectural survey as of the end of July showed that over 1,000 victims had evacuated to places other than evacuation centers, while Yatsushiro found in its own survey that the city is estimated to have some 1,500 such evacuees.

“We are making confirmations using applications for disaster certifications,” a prefectural government official said. But it is unclear how many homes are in demand.

The heavy rains caused floods, landslides and other damage in many parts of the Kyushu southwestern region including Kumamoto.

According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, the total death toll in Kyushu reached 76 as of the end of July. Kumamoto had the largest number at 65, while Oita Prefecture saw five deaths, Nagasaki Prefecture three, Fukuoka Prefecture two and Kagoshima Prefecture one. Three people remain missing.

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