Jul 2018


Emergency Response: Japan Floods 2018 [Update]

Western Japan was hit by historic rainfall in late June/early July 2018, leading to the deadliest storm-related disaster in the past 36 years. Heavy rains triggered flooding, landslides, and mudslides that claimed hundreds of lives, devastated entire communities, and forced many people to leave their homes.

Okayama, Hiroshima and Ehime prefectures are thought to be the worst affected; the total number of damaged homes in these areas alone stands at 18,000.

1 week since the disaster, there is still disruption to lifelines such as water, gas, and electricity supply, and some public transportation is still non-operational. Additionally, a heat wave is affecting some of the flood-affected areas, complicating matters further and exposing affected populations to further risk.


Disaster Impacts: In Numbers

  • Number of fatalities 214
  • Number of missing 21
  • Number of evacuees 7,085 across 13 Prefectures
  • Number of homes damaged/destroyed 24,150*These figures were sourced from various Japanese and international media reports, including BBC and NHK.. Figures may change as more information becomes available.


Rapid Assessment

Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV) dispatched trained, experienced staff to the affected areas within hours of the news breaking.

PBV is an active member of associations such as the Japan Voluntary Organisations Active In Disaster Network (JVOAD), which is a key player in Japan’s disaster management landscape representing many civil society actors – and so these kinds of networks were activated immediately to ensure coordinated, carefully considered actions.

Working closely with partner organisations and relevant agencies, the rapid response team gathered as much information as possible about the situation on the ground. After conducting a rapid needs assessment and consulting local stakeholders extensively, PBV decided a course to provide comprehensive support to survivors in collaboration with local community and government groups, focusing in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture.

Situation Report: Mabi-cho, Kurashiki-shi, Okayama Prefecture

  • Area: 44.08 km2
  • Households: 8,715
  • Population: 22,970
  • Number of homes damaged/destroyed: 4,600 (as of July 12)
  • Emergency shelters: 4 Locations, 994 people (as of July 12)
    – Okada elementary school:
    300 people / capacity: 166% (180 people)
    – Sono elementary school:
    300 people / capacity: 166% (180 people)
    – Nima elementary school:
    250 people / capacity: 156% (160 people)
    – Kibiji Clean Center:
    144 people / capacity: (N/A)

– There is currently a shortage of emergency shelters in Mabi-cho due to extensive damage of other designated emergency shelters. Facilities are overcrowded (see statistics above).

– Management of evacuation shelters and improvement of sanitation conditions are critical. Aggravation of health conditions caused by the ongoing heat wave is a major concern.

Physical and psychosocial care is needed especially for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and children. There is a risk that stressful conditions and deteriorating health in emergency shelters may cause further loss of life.

– Many homes were totally destroyed or flooded above the 2nd floor, which indicates that the rebuild process will take years, not months. There are some neighbourhoods which have yet to grasp a full picture of their situation. The true extent of the damage will become clear as more information becomes available.

– The estimated number of damaged houses is more than 4,600, which indicates the disaster’s severity and scale in this area alone.

– Some districts have not had critical lifelines restored, such as water supply, electricity, and gas, which is an obstacle to rebuilding and recovery. Cleaning up of damaged homes is needed urgently


Disaster Relief & Recovery: Core Activities

Within the first weeks, PBV received a request for assistance from the Kurashiki City Social Welfare Council (社会福祉協議会 or shakaifukushikyougikai) – the entity in charge of setting up and managing disaster relief volunteer centers.

PBV responded to this request, and is currently focusing on the following core activities:

  1. Support of emergency shelters
  2. Establishment & management of disaster relief volunteer centers
  3. Support of temporary housing residents

(1) Support of Emergency Shelters

PBV will provide vital assistance to evacuees in emergency shelters. Teams are already supporting the management and coordination of emergency shelters in partnership with local governments.

Additionally, PBV will distribute emergency supplies (e.g. food, water, blankets) in an equitable way for all evacuees, including vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with disabilities.

(2) Establishment & Management of Disaster Relief Volunteer Centers

PBV is supporting the coordination and management of large groups of volunteers in disaster volunteer centers, and is supporting less-experienced local staff in an advisory capacity, leveraging its extensive experience in this field. Recovery will take a long time, and will require significant volunteer support in areas such as cleaning houses, disposing furniture, and removing debris.

PBV is already recruiting, mobilizing and training volunteers to assist with the above activities, as well as to help with activities including a) organising and sorting through emergency supplies that have arrived in affected areas, b) distributing the supplies to survivors, and c) meeting other needs that will undoubtedly arise over the coming weeks. All volunteers will be given a thorough orientation and training in order to ensure that they can work both effectively and safely at all times (which is especially important during the hot summer months).

(3) Support of Temporary Housing Residents

In the coming months, it is expected that many survivors will settle in temporary housing facilities provided by the government after spending some time in emergency shelters. The government will provide a physical structure in due course, but will not provide daily necessities.

It is likely that many survivors will need basic items (e.g. furniture, cooking equipment, appliances, household goods) as many of these items would have been lost to the flood. We plan to support temporary housing residents over the mid to long-term by providing these daily necessities when the time is right.


Support Survivors of the Flooding in Western Japan

Support survivors of the flooding by donating online via one of the pages below:

Donations Page:
https://pbv.or.jp/en/donate/2018_nishinihon/ [English] https://pbv.or.jp/donate/2018_nishinihon [Japanese]

For regular updates, please see our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PBVsaigai/

For additional information, please visit our websites:
https://pbv.or.jp/en/ [English] https://pbv.or.jp/ [Japanese]

Feel free to contact us if you have any queries regarding partnerships, donations, or collaborations. Thank you.

Contact: relief @ peaceboat.gr.jp