Disability Japan Typhoon Hagibis

Evacuation facility staff recount the problems the elderly and disabled faced during Typhoon Hagibis

"It was decided that staying in the facility was safer than moving a weak elderly person to an unequipped place. However, as the typhoon approached, the river overflowed with water and became more serious than expected."

Written with extracts translated from NHK’s ‘Good Morning’ Website

October 27th 2019

During Typhoon No. 19 or Typhoon Hagibis a great confusion was found to have occurred, as elderly and people with disabilities, were left without support and consideration is needed to accept the people who require the use of “welfare shelter” and to make sure it is fully functional when it is time to evacuate.

In Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, where the Koshibe river flooded and nine welfare facilities were flooded, many facilities were in a serious situation as the typhoon approached.

One such facility was Kawagoe King’s Garden, a special nursing home for the elderly, where all 100 people were evacuated to the second floor of the building.

This facility was originally supposed to evacuate users to another location in advance.

Looking at the facility’s evacuation plan, the expected evacuation destination was a nearby care house designated as a welfare shelter. However, if the river flooded, this facility could also be flooded. The only other place where she could evacuate was a school designated as a general shelter. It was decided that staying in the facility was safer than moving a weak elderly person to an unequipped place.

The facility manager said: “How dangerous and time-consuming it is to move 100 people? I decided that staying here was much safer. ”

However, as the typhoon approached, the river overflowed with water and became more serious than expected.

Inundated into the building, 24 staff members divided and started evacuating 100 elderly people to the second floor. However, an unexpected situation occurred, the facility manager continued:

“There was a power outage along the way and the elevator could not be used.

The elderly climbed up the stairs, and each person, who was able to walk, accompanied the staff and moved to avoid injury. ”

Evacuation was extremely difficult, and it was about 2 hours after everyone had escaped. The first floor was completely submerged. At Kawagoe Kings Garden all the elderly were rescued. However, it was a difficult decision because there was no place to evacuate with confidence when there is a risk of flooding.

After the evacuation for the elderly and disabled, the public hall where resident of person with a disability facility in Kawagoe city evacuates. 90% were autistic people and the unfamiliar environment was stressful for them. The facility staff said:

“Men and women usually live separately, so they may be restless because they are together.” A social welfare company employee said:

“Most people have autism, but it takes a lot of time to adapt to changes in the environment. The things they tried to learn will be in a different environment, and starting from scratch will be a lot of stress and pain for them.”

 

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