Japan storm victims felt worst was over, then floods came

Vehicles are seen under water following the typhoon-hit town of Marumori, Miyagi prefecture, Japan , Monday, Oct. 14, 2019.(AP)
Updated 14 October 2019

Japan storm victims felt worst was over, then floods came

  • The storm, which made landfall in the Tokyo region late Saturday, had dumped record amounts of rain that caused rivers to overflow their banks

KAWAGOE: After the worst of Typhoon Hagibis passed over this town north of Tokyo, Kazuo Saito made sure there was no water outside his house and went to bed.
He woke up a few times throughout the night to check, but by the time he woke for good on Sunday morning, the view outside his window was almost unrecognizable.
“There was a huge river flowing in front of me,” the 74-year-old said.
The storm, which made landfall in the Tokyo region late Saturday, had dumped record amounts of rain that caused rivers to overflow their banks, some of them damaged. It turned many neighborhoods in Kawagoe into swamps.
Crews were working across central and northern Japan on Monday to dig through mudslides and search riverbanks for those missing in the storm, which killed dozens of people and left thousands of homes on Japan’s main island flooded, damaged or without power. Some 30,000 people were in evacuation centers.
More than 200 rivers overflowed and inundated the typhoon-hit areas, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation. Hagibis caused damage to extensive areas, most likely because it hardly lost strength due to warmer-than-usual sea temperatures and became a super-sized typhoon, unlike usual autumn typhoons that wane while traveling north, experts said.
Saito, wearing work clothes and long rubber boots, said he was determined not to evacuate ahead of the storm or on Sunday despite the floodwaters because “this is my only home.” His wife, Sumiko, thought evacuating at that point was too late and more dangerous.
“I was terrified and my knees trembled,” she said.
As they waited, the waters gradually subsided, and on Monday they were able to come down from the second floor of their home. They were cleaning their dirt-covered front yard and sorting out mementos and furniture that were damaged when floodwaters reached nearly the ceiling of their garage.
“If I had known the water was to come this high, I could have evacuated them inside the house,” Kazuo Saito said.
The storm was the worst Saito could recall in all his years in Kawagoe. He said a tropical storm in 1999 that flooded more than 3,000 homes had floodwaters that were only waist-high.
“This time, it came up to here,” he said, raising his arm above his head and pointing to the dark line left by the water
At a nearby nursing home, dozens of residents were evacuated on rubber boats Monday, city officials said. On Sunday, more than 120 residents of Kings Garden, another care home for the elderly, were taken to safer facilities.
Hisako Satake, 87, who was among those evacuated from Kings Garden, was brought to a nearby elementary school where about 20 others had also taken shelter.
She said that when the floodwaters started seeping into the ground floor of her nursing home, she and other residents were escorted to a chapel on the second floor. They then lost running water and electricity.
“It was a bit of surprise,” Satake said, sitting on a folded futon mattress on the school gymnasium floor. “So we prayed, and that helped us to stay calm.”


COVID-19 spread harder to control without common effort says French PM as daily cases double

Updated 11 August 2020

COVID-19 spread harder to control without common effort says French PM as daily cases double

  • French health authorities reported 1,397 new COVID-19 infections over 24 hours on Tuesday
  • New clusters have mushroomed as people let their hair down on holiday, families hold reunions and workers return to offices

PARIS: The renewed spread of coronavirus in France could become harder to control without a collective effort to stop a rise in the infection rate, its prime minister said on Tuesday.
The public was becoming careless, Jean Castex warned, after official data recorded nearly 5,000 new COVID-19 cases from Saturday to Monday. The epidemic has now killed more than 30,300 people in France.
French health authorities reported 1,397 new COVID-19 infections over 24 hours on Tuesday, almost twice Monday’s tally.
The Health Ministry website said there were 15 new deaths in hospital due the disease, compared to an increase of 16 over a three-day period between Monday and Saturday,
“If we don’t act collectively, we expose ourselves to the heightened risk that the rebound in the epidemic becomes hard to control,” Castex said during a visit to a hospital intensive care ward in southern France.
France’s 7-day moving average of new infections climbed to 1,640 on Monday from 1,056 on July 31. The 7-day measure reached a post lockdown low of 272 on May 27, a little over 2 weeks after the government eased one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.
But as in most neighboring European countries, new clusters have mushroomed as people let their hair down on holiday, families hold reunions and workers return to offices and France is desperate to avoid another full-scale lockdown.
Britain has said it will not hesitate putting more countries on its quarantine list, including France, where hordes of Britons spend their summer vacations.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron held a video conference with top ministers from his Riviera summer retreat.
During the meeting, it was decided France would draw up new restrictions for the 20 largest cities to curb the rising infection rate and that a ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people would be extended until Oct. 31.
Some cities have already taken action. Paris on Monday joined Toulouse, Lille, Biarritz and others in imposing a mandatory face mask order in crowded outdoor zones. They are already compulsory nationwide in shops and banks.
The prime minister said testing was “more than satisfactory,” with more than 600,000 tests being conducted weekly, but said more could still be done to target those with symptoms, the prime minister said.
Talking of the risk of another lockdown, Castex said: “no one wants to live through that again.”